Proving its worth as so much more than simply a construction solutions company, Megawide Construction Corporation is on a mission to transform and improve the Philippines, one piece of infrastructure at a time.
At the helm of its strategic business units is Executive Vice President Markus Hennig, who is proud to be among those leading the way forward. Megawide is proving to other businesses that working together for the community’s benefit ultimately can result in win–win situations for all parties involved.
“Our goal is to create a First-World Philippines through engineering excellence and innovation with the prefabricated systems and innovative technologies,” he says. “This is the key for us over the next few years. So we’ve aligned our mission, vision and values to reflect this aim.
“We’re increasing our infrastructure capabilities and capacity, and working on new segments. For example, we are currently working on a new project for a cold storage facility. There are discussions that it could be perfect for the COVID-19 vaccine logistics, which would mean that with our contributions to the infrastructure, we’re really helping the country develop and grow.”
Markus explains that Megawide has a number of these kinds of projects already in motion, collaborating with the Philippine government through the public-private partnership (PPP) program to develop the Mactan-Cebu International Airport and the Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange (PITX) among others.
“We’ve already had a lot of PPP projects, where we did things like build 10,000 classrooms in areas where there needed to be more developed,” he says.
“We opened the PITX intermodal transport hub in 2018 and its system has the potential to be expanded to other locations. We recently won the bid for the Malolos-Clark railway project, the construction of which will take four years. We’ll also be participating in the bid for the construction of the Metro Manila subway. We’re looking to offer more products to the infrastructure and government projects as well as in the private sector. There are a lot of possibilities and opportunities for us – whether it’s within the subsidiaries, business units, equipment division, concrete, precast or ready-mix division, or foreign contractors coming to the market.”
I’m always trying to work on how i can make each day better than the one before.
Indeed, an essential component of Megawide’s processes is the reliance on partnerships with high-calibre, like-minded businesses. By ensuring a transparent dialogue and a relationship founded on mutual trust, the company has cultivated a strong network of businesses that offer support to each other even within tight time frames.
“I like very reliable suppliers who can provide us with the service we need for a reasonable package,” Markus explains. “In construction, in our business, it’s very technology oriented. If you don’t have the right supplier as a service provider behind you, it is really problematic.
“That’s why our main factories – precast and formwork – have around 30 overhead and gantry cranes from MHE Demag. It’s a worldwide international brand with a local subsidiary that’s servicing us, and it offers a fantastic service. Our seven precast satellite factories are equipped with custom-fitted travel lifts from Cengin Cranes. We’ve been working with the same suppliers for many years, which means we know exactly what to expect each time we use them. We really try to have a sustainable supply chain where we’re not jumping around between suppliers so much.”
This mentality of equal partnerships and teamwork unsurprisingly stems from the company’s core values and company culture, which rests on a model that puts people first in all situations.
As a leader, Markus favours an approach that allows autonomous working in order for employees to learn and develop. In terms of a role model, he cites Edgar Saavedra, Megawide’s Chairman and CEO, as a source of constant inspiration.
“He’s very smart, very innovative,” Markus says. “I try to follow his lead and aim to encourage and develop our employees further. That’s always been my personal objective.
“I’m trying to look at developing everybody who’s working with me further, to be a really strong key part of the organisation. I don’t like too much micromanagement, I want people to be able to make their own decisions and make their own mistakes, as long as they’re not making the same mistakes twice.
“I’m always trying to work on how I can make each day better than the one before. I have the same expectations for my team; how can they develop, be innovative and efficient, and understand the concerns of others? I want them to be in the same mindset.”
The pandemic has altered all businesses across the world in some way over the past year, and while it served as an unwelcomed disruption for Megawide, it also provided an opportunity to reflect, reset and make improvements. At the end of the day, Markus explains that the single most important thing was guaranteeing the safety of all its employees.
“Even now, we’re continually developing and adjusting our now-permanent COVID-19 protocols,” he reveals. “We’re building quarantine facilities so that we’re prepared for all possible outcomes. The health and care of our people is vital. We also offered a lot of financial support during lockdown – we paid out 13 months’ salary up-front and allowed vacation leave payouts. We really made sure that all staff were looked after financially and in terms of safety.
“From here, we’re working on the next milestone, which is recovery – so we’re back on track again already, but we are also preparing ourselves as best we can to weather the next storm.”
With a rich and extensive background in construction spanning 24 years, Markus admits that his love affair with precast began when he first entered the industry as a 16-year-old in Germany, and has endured ever since.
“I was working with Dyckerhoff & Widmann AG, one of the biggest precast and construction contractors in Germany at that time,” he recalls. “Instead of going to university, I did three years of vocational training in civil engineering, with a specialisation in the precast industry – which to this day, is still my passion.”
From there, Markus joined CEMEX Deutschland in their precast plant, where he stayed for nearly six years before moving to Mammut Technocrete in Dubai, followed by a position with Alfanar Precast in Saudi Arabia. He started his journey consulting with Megawide in 2011 as Operations Manager.
From 2013 to 2017, he continued his consultancy journey with the World Wide Precast Consultancy, spending time in Dubai, Kazakhstan, the US and Saudi Arabia before being brought back on at Megawide in 2018 as Executive Vice President of the Business Unit Group. “In the past few years, I’ve taken a leadership role in other businesses and subsidiaries of Megawide,” Markus explains.
“It means that I’m a little outside of my comfort zone in precast, but it’s really interesting. And at the end of the day, it’s a different type of business to our other subsidiaries and business unit companies, but it’s still all related to construction. We’ve really been working to bring high-end technology, automated carousel lines and systems from Europe to the Philippines.”
Drawing on his impressive knowledge of the industry, as well as his prior experience at Megawide, Markus set to work refining and streamlining the company’s systems, prioritising innovation and focusing on speed and agility.
“When we’re setting up a new factory, we’re really thinking it through from A to Z,” he says. “Equipment suppliers often propose their set-up, but fail to factor in the total factory workflow. As an example, there are logistic items missing, and often the warehousing, material handling and planning is forgotten.
It’s important for the business to act as an end user to collect the data together, to make sure that from the beginning, the factory is optimised to ramp up things very quickly.
“One of Megawide’s strengths, as well as my own strengths, is that we take our time to study things, but also have the experience and capability to set up our facilities in a very short period. There are some companies who need two to three years to bring their utilisation to a certain level, but we can reach it in three to six months. In my opinion, that’s been one of our biggest achievements in the past few years. We have a strong core team that is very capable.”
Indeed, Markus explains that, unfortunately, for some time now the Philippines has lagged behind in terms of innovation, in Asia as well as other corners of the globe. However, he’s proud that his company has been at the forefront of changing all of that.
“There’s still a big difference between how things are in the Philippines and how things are internationally,” he says. “Here, we’ve been working on automation for the past 10 years, whereas in Europe, because of the high salary structure, it was already playing a much bigger role 30 or 40 years ago. And even in the Philippines, we’ve been the only company with automated systems until now.
We want everybody in the market to be able to participate in our technology, and to benefit from our capacity and experience.
“It’s so important because you have better efficiency, higher output and higher quality and accuracy – you’re reducing non-conformities. In 2011, what we did to invest in the automated lines in precast was a very important decision. We really want to develop the Philippine market further with our technology partners such as the Peikko Group.”
Today, Megawide is renowned for being one of the country’s most progressive infrastructure companies, supplying groundbreaking construction and engineering solutions in precast, formwork systems and concrete batching to a vast range of public and private clients in a variety of fields – from procurement and construction to airport infrastructure, progressive property development and renewable energy.
Looking to the future, Markus is certain that it will continue its impressive expansion in a sustainable way, adding to its ever-growing portfolio of clients. “The growth in the next few years will be substantial,” he says.
“We have quite a small share of external clients, but our strategy to expand these has been in place for two years already. We’re also working with some international companies who are now entering the Philippine market. There are a lot of smaller, Triple-A contractors who we’ve had five or six projects with, and that will mainly be driven from our precast business. But we want to do the same with ready-mix, with equipment, with formworks technology.
“In the precast business in 2016, we made around 300,000 square metres of precast elements. In 2019, we were already up to 900,000 – we tripled our production output and revenues just in three years. Across all of South-East Asia there are only a handful of companies who have this capacity, so we’re really going to be one of the leaders in the whole South-East Asian market.”
Now, as Megawide continues its ambitious quest to transform the Philippines for the better, creating tangible change through the development of infrastructure, Markus hopes that more businesses and individuals can benefit from its expertise and knowledge, and work together to create a better tomorrow for the entire country.
“We want to offer our products not only in-house to Megawide, but also to everybody else. We want everybody in the market to be able to participate in our technology, and to benefit from our capacity and experience,” he says. “There’s nothing we’re looking to keep secret from the market – we’re really encouraging the wider community to utilise our innovation.”
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