Welcome: Chairman’s Message
Welcome to the NH Voice.
In this newsletter, our intention is to strengthen community, share what we have learned, celebrate our rich legacy and reveal some of our future plans.
Giving back to our community is central to our philosophy here at NH.
Our main feature in this issue is our work on The College of Science, Technology and Applied Arts of Trinidad and Tobago (COSTAATT) Main Administration Building, in Chaguanas. This project is a strong representation of our commitment to nation building.
You can also find out about the new technology we’ve been applying to save our clients extra time and costs. We have many new challenges as a country and as a region. We are all feeling the pressure of increasing food prices, the instability and violence in communities and a fraying education system: this affects national spirit. We have had to evolve and will continue to.
You can also read about the branding of the company and the 50th Anniversary celebrations, which honoured people who have been with us for decades. We had to stop and give thanks to the long-standing members of our team without you we would not have made it so far.
We have also created The Leadership Team, made up of: Angelique Najab-Antoine, Project Services Coordinator; Richard Brewer, Project Director; John Dempsey, Managing Quantity Surveyor; Pooranlal Jairam, Senior Estimator; Omardath Jugmohan, Contracts Manager; Kristopher Lucky, I.T. Manager; John Peters, Consultant; Michael Phillips, Project Manager; Jason Reyes, Chief Accountant and Eddie Seeramlal, Purchasing Manager.
As many of you know we have been in the completions phase of most of the jobs we have in Trinidad and Tobago and have been awarded some exciting projects in the hospitality industries up the islands. We are thrilled to have secured these jobs in St Lucia, Dominica and hopefully soon in Antigua as well.
Corporate Social Responsibility is a word social scientists invented long after we were giving. Through our strengths and blessings we have a responsibility to our wider community. Through empowering and shedding light on areas of concern I feel we can continue to help this country through these turbulent times. This is the commitment, value and steadfastness that we bring to our work here at NH. We run a very lean company and the work ethic of everyone who works there is very high, I am proud to be your Chairman, Thank you!
Welcome: A Letter from the Managing Director
It is great to see the newsletter back in action and I hope the NH Voice will become a regular publication. A lot has been happening at NH with the recent rebranding and appointment of a Leadership Team and NH’s part of the Emile Elias and Company 50 year celebrations, which I might add we have another 25 years to go to catch up with!
This year has seen many successful projects being completed, which everyone in the organisation should feel proud to have been part of. Some worthy of mention are the Government Plaza fitting out projects; the COSTAATT Main Campus facility in Chaguanas and the Fairfield Housing Project in Princes Town.
The downturn in the Trinidad and Tobago economy has meant that we now have to regroup and concentrate our efforts on securing more projects from the wider Caribbean islands. There have been some successes in this respect with such projects as the Royalton resort in St Lucia and more recently the securing of the Kempinski resort in Dominica. There are several other projects in the pipeline in the islands which I am confident will bear fruits over the next 12 months. In Trinidad, we are also looking at the private sector and public private partnership arrangements with the Government although these initiatives do take some time to come to fruition.
In the last 5 years NH has become one of the leaders in the design and build sector of our industry which provides greater opportunities for us to secure projects as against the old traditional approaches where price is the prime determining success factor. We expect to strengthen further this important part of NH’s portfolio as well as promoting this to clients and developers throughout the Caribbean.
Internally we must become more efficient and look at new ways to reduce cost and increase productivity, every department must look inwards and ask themselves how this can be achieved. There must be less waste on our projects in all aspects of the resources we employ. I look forward to the support of the whole team, so that we can weather the next 6-18 months of what will certainly be a leaner period for our company and the industry as a whole.
Imagination and Innovation
The College of Science, Technology and Applied Arts of Trinidad and Tobago (COSTAATT) Main Administration Building
Client: National Insurance Property Development Company Ltd. (NIPDEC)
NH Design-Build Team: Fojo Design & Develop Ltd.- Architect;
Aleron Ltd.- Structural Engineer; Mechanical and Electrical Engineers Ltd.- MEP Engineer; CEP Ltd.- Civil Engineer
NH Team: Omardath Jugmohan- Contracts Manager; Michael Phillips- Project Manager; Don Devindra- Senior Quantity Surveyor; Imraaz Aziz- Design Coordinator
Project details: Design-Build- Equip of Tertiary Education Administrative building of 64,000sq.ft on three levels, on five (5) acres of land, including all civil and services infrastructure
Completed: April 2016
Twenty-five acres of land previously used for cane cultivation was dedicated to the construction of the main campus of Trinidad and Tobago’s first community college in 2012.
After successfully bidding for the contract for the construction of the main campus building, NH started works in August 2014.
Imagined as the lynchpin of the future COSTAATT campus, the building also functions as the main entrance to the campus, with a well landscaped grand boulevard leading up to its doors, invoking the feeling of open arms, reaching out to the public of Trinidad and Tobago. Inviting them into education, knowledge and a more enlightened society. The symmetry of the building also assists in giving a sense of harmony and structure. All characteristics very desirable for the main building of a major university.
NH coordinated the design team comprising of Fojo Design and Develop, Aleron Ltd, MEEL and CEP to ensure the best possible solutions were realised for the client and end-users.
Dr. Gillian Paul, President of the College told NH Voice: “I sat on the evaluation committee for the tender and it was really the most stunning design. Quite artistic aesthetically, an inspiring interpretation of the functionality intended for the campus. A signature building. The team at NH was very attentive to the intended use of the space and extremely important for us, the issue of sustainability, so a lot of attention to open corridors, spaces for students to gather, natural light. I very much love the fact that there is nothing but green space around it and an uninterrupted view of the northern range, it will be an inspiring space for any COSTAATT student. It’s wonderful that it comes in our 15th anniversary year and at a time when we are looking at the next level in terms of our development as an institution.”
Innovation saw the team apply technologies to meet the challenges involved with preparing the primarily clay-based soil, applying post tensioned foundations instead of the typically applied pile foundations.
Post-tension foundations employ the use of cables and nominal reinforcement eliminating the need for piling. The geotechnical and structural engineers have to work very closely.
The superstructure was constructed of reinforced concrete and NH planned and executed a one (1) day cycle time on each of the two (2) Forsa forms in use. This activity commenced in December 2014 and the structure was completed in March 2015, just four (4) months.
The team also saved time and money, designing, fabricating and installing the external envelope of the building, that is, the external cladding and glazing. All the various components were sourced by the team and shipped to Trinidad. An on site fabrication shop was set up for the aluminum composite panels (ACP), where it was unitised into panels and then transported close to the tower crane for erection on the building. The glazing system was also fabricated on site including the large skylight in the atrium area allowing natural light to enter this grand space.
Our services contractors also played a major role in making sure all the mechanical and electrical equipment was procured in a timely manner. Of particular mention is the use of ALP air conditioning duct system as opposed to the traditional sheet metal and insulation. This also involved setting up a fabrication shop on site and Omar Jugmohan, Contracts Manager explained: “The core of the ALP innovation is a high density, closed-cell in expanded polyurethane panel, its structure (with thicknesses of 21 and 30 mm) is light and advanced, since it obtains key performances such as the pre-insulation, with a weight clearly lower than the weight of an insulated galvanized iron sheet. The aluminum facing is more than a simple ‘covering’: it has a solid and resistant surface for a longer life for the duct, bacteriostatic efficacy and easy cleaning for a better quality of air.
“The ductwork fabricated with ALP System panels can be fabricated in any dimension; is light – easy to transport, handle on site, to install and maintain; also, it is pre-insulated. It has low thermal conductivity and extraordinary mechanical resistance. Thus, allows low energy consumptions to distribute air at an adequate temperature.”
Besides the challenges involved in the above, it’s worthwhile to mention a few others:
1. NH had mobilised on the site but could not start any construction work until the CEC was issued by the EMA. This caused the foundation work to be pushed into the highpoint of the rainy season.
2. A temporary roof was erected over the main atrium area (12m x 12m) in order to allow works to proceed inside the building without being affected by the weather while the skylight was being manufactured overseas. The skylight was built under this temporary roof and sealed, then the temporary roof was removed.
3. NH was ready to order all the furniture for the project when the preferred supplier’s factory was completely decimated by fire. The procurement process had to be restarted with approvals etc., but we managed to get all the furniture in the building within the time.
“The designer, the architect did a beautiful job, the contractors did a phenomenal job of delivering that facility, which is a world-class facility within that time frame, with very, very few problems,” Dr Paul ended. “For the students, it means their worth is recognised by the government. The investment of taxpayers money for that type of building, for what would be considered not a university, says something to the COSTAATT student that nobody has said to them before so it is extremely important for them symbolically.”
Project Feature: Ministry of Legal Affairs & Office of the Attorney General, Government Campus Plaza. Port of Spain
Client: Urban Development Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago (UDECOTT)
Richard Brewer – Project Director
Enrico De Freitas – Project Manager
Dave Cove – MEP Manager
Design & Fit-Out Contractor. Tenant fit-out of 22-storey office building, providing accommodation for the Ministry of Legal Affairs and the Office of the Attorney General.
Date Completed: April, 2016
Project Feature: PK9 - Immigration Division, Government Campus Plaza. Port of Spain
Client: Urban Development Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago (UDECOTT)
Richard Brewer – Project Director
Enrico De Freitas – Project Manager
Design & Fit-Out Contractor. Design and fit-out of 10-storey office building, providing accommodation for the Immigration Division.
Date Completed: May, 2016
Byrne & Fitzpatrick Building
Client: Ithaca Ltd.
Architect: Fojo Design & Develop Ltd.
NH Team: Omar Jugmohan – Contracts Manager; Paul Goodridge – Construction Manager; Dean Durant -Quantity Surveyor
Three storey structural steel building with metal floor decking and concrete block infill of approximately 1276 sq.m. area.
Fairfield Housing Development, Princess Town
Client: Trinidad and Tobago Housing Development Corporation
Architect: Fojo Design & Develop Ltd.
NH Team: Trevor Harper – Senior Project Manager; Raymond Mungroo –Quantity Surveyor; Kenrick Nagir, Barnes Ramdin, Lincoln Lowell – Construction Managers; Terrance Charles – Project Planner
Design-Build Contractor. Design and construction of 541 single family housing units with related civil and services infrastructure.
Laying a solid foundation
“Before you lay a foundation on the cricket field, there should be a solid foundation in your heart and you start building on that. After that as you start playing more and more matches, you learn how to score runs and how to take wickets.”
Sachin Tendulkar, former Indian cricketer and captain, widely regarded as one of the greatest batsmen of all time.
First at the crease, Pooranlal Jairam, has applied his analytical mind in the field for NH International (Caribbean) as Senior Estimator and as cricket team captain. He loves his cricket.
“Originally, I am from Gasparillo. I worked as a student technician in Pointe-a- Pierre at Trintoc (which later became Petrotrin). I spent a year at UWI and my formal education was at Naparima College. I also pursued the Associate Professional Exams in the CIOB (Chartered Institute of Building).
I wanted to be an aeronautical engineer but I couldn’t help but be excited by construction. I could see how highways and buildings transformed spaces. The company (Emile Elias and Company), offered a training program in 1977-78, and I decided to apply. The construction industry was really growing and I thought it would give me a good opportunity to get involved in construction. It was quite an exciting field.
I was about 22 years old and applied as a trainee project manager and after a couple of months I switched across to quantity surveying. This job involved me always coming to Port of Spain. I would get up around 5am and hitch a ride with my nephew. My first site was at El Dorado Senior Comprehensive. That was my very first site. I actually wanted to leave the very first day I went on site. It was pouring rain and I said: these conditions are not looking conducive. But I had a change in heart eventually.
In 1983, as the recession came in I moved into the estimating department as the estimator for the Small Works. We had created a Small Works Department and we were pursuing a lot of projects at the time. I’ve been in the estimating department and based in Port of Spain, from 1983 until now. I have been in the company since 1978, that makes it 38 years this coming July. We look at this department as the engine room in the whole operations within the company.
The estimate is essential to the execution of all work and for maintaining project control. The key to producing an accurate estimate lies in the organisation of the information that will be used to determine the amount of material, labour, equipment and supervision required for the project. Estimating is basically preparing the cost of a project. It could be an estimate for a bridge, a building, a foundation or a wall. We are responsible for examining the contract conditions, technical specifications, drawings and bills of quantities, ensuring we know everything required to successfully: bid and win the project.
You have to anticipate everything, even risk. We have to put all of this together. And of course, we have to aggressively follow-up with sub-contractors to ensure that their quotations are received on a timely basis, so they can be analysed and incorporated into the estimate accordingly. The mantra is from the chairman, he always preaches: Know thy cost. At the tender adjudication stage, once you have assessed the risks and established the net cost, you can determine your overheads and profit to offer your most competitive bid.
Sometimes it’s so challenging. You want to be precise and it is always a race against the clock.
You must have an analytical mind to work in this field, you have to be detail oriented and prepared to work long hours. Have good mathematical skills. You have to be open-minded and have a passion for what you’re doing.
From the Bahamas in the North to Guyana in the South I have secured hundreds of projects. I am proud of what we’ve achieved to date that makes us one of the leading construction companies in the Caribbean.
Construction plays a unique role in economic growth and is often a key barometer of economic training in the country. At times of recession it hits hard. You are seeing a lot of workers being sent home; the demise of several companies. But I am hopeful. We have to ensure the growth of the company and continue to have a positive impact on the economic growth of the country, in terms of development of infrastructure, building works and so on.
I am looking forward to the company continuing to grow, to having a successful career and leaving some sort of legacy here. I hope someone can come along and step in my shoes and even exceed what I have done.”
News: Family Business: 50th Anniversary celebrations
Nothing happens without proper planning in the construction business or without people and NH’s 50th Anniversary celebrations were no different.
Two years of diligent preparation for a rite of passage that has seen the company evolve while retaining its core values. Honouring the trailblazers and those who have held the family together at the Long Service Awards. Documenting the journey and sharing the lessons learned along the way by telling our story with the publication of Do Right and Prosper – 50 Years of Building. Unveiling the new NH brand.
Emilie Elias, Chairman, shared some of his thoughts: “I guess looking back 50 years is a very long time. It was an emotional journey. But it kind of clears your head to look at the future. The 50th anniversary is about the future as much as it was about the past.”
“It is necessary for us to evolve as a company,” said Charlotte Elias. “What we aim to do is to have something that asks more of us as a company. Where we’re not just survivors of 50 years but we’re actually flourishing. We’ve not just held it together in the financial pits and troughs, we’ve also done it with a very strategic process that we apply to everything we do as a company. Our survival has come with watching, listening, and consistent hard work to know where we need to be, when – to survive in the industry.”
“This is not a one man show,” the Chairman ended. “We wanted to honour people in a way that tells them that we recognise their contributions and we hope they continue to feel part of a family. It is a family business and I don’t just mean one family – it’s a lot of families.”
News: Do Right & Prosper
“Excellence in the region is more than able to compete globally with the exception of how we treat our branding and our communications,” offered Gareth Jenkins, of AboveGroup.
“With NH, that was the case, they weren’t putting a lot of time into how they communicate visually, verbally… So we have a world-class organisation with a huge amount of untapped brand equity, experience, and an amazing story that wasn’t being told apart from an immediate circle of people who worked with the organisation. It was a great project because it spoke to what we enjoy doing and what the region needs.”
There wasn’t a lot of emphasis on branding when Emilie Elias started working on his first project. The young businessman focused on building his reputation but as the company has grown in step with its chairman change has been an ongoing thing. “We looked deep within the history of the company. What were the principles the company was based upon? What was the innate philosophy of its founder?” Charlotte Elias explained.
“We worked with AboveGroup because they are the best at what they do. And we had faith that they would be able to drill down and do the research that we would not have been able to do ourselves – in so far as looking at the external clientele and public’s and the staff’s perceptions.
“The company had a history of being incredibly resilient. We found with our staff base that we prided on certain things: that we always pay on time, that we have staff that have been with us for a very long time. That we’re incredibly loyal to our suppliers and that we’ve always spoken the truth and done the right thing. Those are very much the principles of our founder but also had been virtues that were an influencing force on many people who had been in the company for a long time. So, when Above came back with their findings it was very interesting to see how we were looked upon both internally and externally. It was really eye opening to all of us that it was something that could tell us so much about ourselves. The branding process was something that helped us to clarify and re-examine who we were and where we wanted to be in the coming 20 years.”
“There was the strong legacy, “ Jenkins added. “Also the idea of an organisation that is in transition – trying to separate the man from the brand, as much as it is built on his reputation, you want to be able to take these attributes and apply them across the board because it should continue for generations. It is a difficult conversation but it is a critical one if you’re going to have something that lasts.” The changes are subtle but powerful, with an emphasis on “evolution not revolution” according to Jenkins.
“The way I see the rebranding,” the Chairman offered, “it is as though after 50 years you stop and take a deep breath and you kind of say, ok, let me look at what I’ve been doing and – not necessarily change things so much but redefine how you see the next 50 years.
“I thought it was a great opportunity to do a lot of retrospection and reflection and I like the idea of the signage: the visuals changing, which sends a message to the whole world really: we are here, we are looking at ourselves in a new way and we want you to look at us in a new way. We want people to look at NH and to start to think of us in another way: we are a major force, we are here, we can do things and we can do them right.”