Right first time

Right first time

Innovation is an integral part of any successful company’s ethos and key to building up long term relationships with clients. For Delta Group, the largest demolition company in the southern hemisphere, all projects are undertaken with the view that being ahead of the game can potentially be the start of a long term relationship. “We don't undertake projects with a view of only working with a client once, we undertake them to kick off a relationship and move forward with them,” says Anthony Papalia, Western Australian Projects Manager. “We envisage that we will be able to work with that client time and time again and to continue to prove them right, that we are the best company in the business.” 

Although job to job dependent with innovation led through a strong safety and sustainability focus, each state has its own safety advisors and coordinators, and a national safety manager who oversees safety and the ‘Right 1st Time’ programme countrywide. The philosophy behind this behavioural safety programme is about being able to recognise and understand hazards and potential issues, then identifying the correct control measures to be put in place to ensure that any work undertaken is – right first time.

“The project execution team sits down, brainstorms together and devises a methodology, from there we bring in third party engineers, who we get to prove that what we have internally designed is going to work. Through engineering and 3D modelling they verify that our methods are appropriate, giving peace of mind to all stakeholders,” says Papalia.
Papalia highlights Deltas methods as being innovative in the way they develop their methodologies, programmes and equipment for their projects. They manage their own projects and generally don’t need a third party management team between them and the clients, meaning that they work directly with the clients as principal contractor.

This, says Papalia, is a method that works well. “We generally engineer our projects to be the safest, the most practical, and the most viable options. Clients will give us a scope of work that may or may not include a methodology in it. We will put in a bid that allows them to see alternate options that can be undertaken that will best suit the outcome they are trying to achieve,” he says.

Undoubtedly cost savings are important for clients, and Delta prides itself in being able to identify these, aided in part by the ability to self-manage projects, but also by the fact that they are set up in many ways as a one stop shop, that can offer their clients turnkey solutions. As well as having multiple specialist divisions that complement their demolition business including hazardous removal, remediation, civil construction, rehabilitation, concrete crushing, recycling and rent they also have over 900 pieces of plant, and are able to do work both onshore and offshore.

Sustainability has grown in importance, or as Papalia describes it “being able to do more with less”. In addition, as the world strives to become more environmentally friendly waste strategy is moving forward as well and is playing a bigger part in planning. “We need to diversify with waste initiatives, maximizing diversion from landfills,” explains Papalia.

Remediation is followed by rehabilitation, working with clients at all stages to manage the project in the best way. Papalia gives an example of how a typical project may be delivered. “Whether it’s a mining or construction based project we can remove hazardous materials, do the demolition, then either remediate and rehabilitate the site or undertake the civil construction requirements of the build package to follow.”

The company was started in 1974 in Victoria, by Con Petropoulos, and is today still a family owned company. He started the company predominantly as a demolition company and then grew it into a demolition and civil works company, moving it across the east coast, and then Nationally. 

Today it has approximately 600 employees and its client base is major construction companies across the country and major world-class miners. The group is made up of multiple divisions and subsidiary companies; CMA Contracting, Whelan the Wrecker, Delta Mallard, Streetscapes and Whelan the Warehouse.

Recent highlights have included undertaking the world’s largest steel stack felling demolition and being runner up in the World Demolition Awards in November in Amsterdam, which Delta was shortlisted for its BHP Billiton Tertiary Crushing Building 02 and Transfer Station 204 Project.

Papalia has been with the company for more than six years. Having come in as a purchasing manager, he quickly moved into safety, working on the quality, safety and environment side of the company in Western Australia. As the company grew so did his remit moving him into project management and now he heads the WA Projects Team. 

With a good training regime and continuous development of employees, Delta goes out of its way to attract and retain staff, keeping them up-to-date, either with in-house tailored training, or externally via registered training centres and colleges.  

There are pros and cons to working in demolition. “It is quite a bit different from other areas of the construction field,” says Papalia. “So that in itself can be a challenge in finding people who are able to understand the demolition industry. We do definitely have a high retention rate, purely for the reason that once they get to experience and understand the complexity of the industry we like to keep them and keep them growing within the company. It is also a bit of an addictive industry to be in. You never get to demolish the same building twice. So it keeps you on your toes, keeps it interesting and challenging.”

“Our people have good opportunities to grow and gain a good, well rounded understanding of the construction and mining game. Our versatility means we are very well set up to cover multiple sectors, so it becomes about continuous improvement and development for our people.”

Citing the core values of safety, integrity, teamwork and excellence, Papalia is confident that these are at the heart of the business. He says, “We make safety and sustainability the primary considerations in decision making. We want to have integrity in what we do, and in doing what we say we are going to do. One team, one goal with open communication from the ground up. Always looking at new and better ways of doing things, creating solutions. This allows for a successful project delivery that exceeds client expectations building ongoing relationships with them.” 

Delta Group
Anthony Papalia