Nick Argyropoulos, Managing Director of road and civil works company NA Group, says: “There aren’t a lot of companies that do what we do.”
Nick is referring to NA Group’s ability to provide the complete range of services necessary for the kinds of projects it undertakes. Most of its competitors rely on sub-contractors; however, NA Group itself is self-sufficient, completing everything in-house, including concrete and asphalt maintenance, civil projects and traffic control.
“An advantage we have is offering a lot of in-house services, so that we’ve become a one-stop shop,” says Nick. “The service, quality and safety our customers are used to getting from us, they can now get across a whole range of services, rather than contracting us for one particular area, and then having to go to a different company for another service.”
Thanks to the company having doubled in size in the past two years, NA Group is close to achieving this. In recent times, it has invested A$3 million in asphalt equipment, and is training its own traffic controllers within the company. This contributes towards the Group’s greatest strengths – flexibility and consistency for its customers. “If you do everything in-house, then everything’s consistent across the board,” Nick says. “Whereas if you get sub-contractors to do some of your work, you lose that consistency.”
NA Group takes on civil and road projects across New South Wales, some of the more notable ones being WestConnex (CPB Contractors and John Holland), Westlink M7 (Lendlease) and Interlink Roads’ M5 South-West Motorway. The Group has worked with a number of bodies across Australia, including government organisations like the New South Wales Roads and Maritime Services, giving it more than 20 years’ experience across the industry. One of NA Group’s more impressive achievements in that time is its win in the state’s 2012 SafeWork Awards, for its commitment to workplace safety.
“One thing we often do is bring in guest speakers who have experienced workplace injuries to talk about how that affected their lives,” says Nick. “That hits home to a lot of the guys. Making the delivery of your message personal and passionate goes a long way towards keeping your people safe and happy.
“The other big thing I do is walk-and-talk. I’m constantly out there with my guys on a regular basis, so we have the head of the company going out there regularly, and enforcing that same message day-in, day-out.”
“Making the delivery of your message personal and passionate goes a long way towards keeping your people safe and happy.”
Nick believes this approach is necessary for the health and productivity of the company, and that the happiness of the employees and that of the customers are inextricably connected. To this end, NA Group maintains a warm, friendly culture. “Although we’re a company with a very corporate image, we’re a small business at heart,” says Nick. “We genuinely care about one another; we still have lunch together daily, and the guys have a laugh. We’re very stringent in the people we select to come into the business. They need to fit the culture.”
But the requirements for a healthy internal culture don’t stop at careful recruitment. Nick takes it upon himself to get among the troops, often providing direct guidance to his team and ensuring that the tasks he sets are achievable.
“If you have a boss who sits back and sets expectations, but doesn’t actually lead by example or stay at the forefront, people don’t tend to respect them,” he says. “And without that respect, you breed an unhealthy environment. But if the leader of a company is always on the frontline and leading by example, your employees tend to respect them and follow in their footsteps.”
Nick brings this same attitude to the Group’s business partners. Though NA Group is moving away from dependence on sub-contractors, it recognises the importance of a mutually respectful partnership with the sub-contractors it still has. “That’s where a lot of other businesses tend to get it wrong,” Nick says. “They view sub-contractors as just a ‘subby’. I don’t look at them like that. I call them supply chain partners, because I strongly believe that’s what they are.”