20th Anniversary of the Power Group



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20 February 2007

Serengeti Golf and Wildlife Estate
Civil Services Site Progress
We continue to progress at a fantastic rate with our civil works. Blasting has been a regular feature of construction on site this year, as Power Construction blast away the rock in some of our dams to complete their construction.
Francois Voigt from Power Construction tells us that all Phase One’s pipe or underground works are completed, and the Phase One road beds are now on ‘sub-base level’. The laying of kerbstones on the roads has just begun, and the stands will soon be trimmed to road level. Tractionel Enterprises, the appointed Electrical contractor, will then commence with the installation of the streetlight network. Phase one only requires further finishes such as these before it is ready to be transferred to our first group of buyers.
Surveyors have been on Phase Two and the clearing of the road reserves in preparation for the bulk services has commenced. There’ll be a lot of activity in this area as it is prepared for transfer.
Serengeti Boulevard is the main road that runs through the Serengeti Estate, and all its formation levels have been completed. Box cutting of the road has already begun, and once the road is at formation level the pipe works will begin.
The planning for the link road between our northern entrance and the R25 has been finalised.

March 2007

The man behind the concrete giants

Build SA Magazine
When I first heard about Graham Power’s road to success, I was marvelled on how one person could be such an inspirational force within the industry as a whole. Graham’s journey to where he is today is a true example of one of his philosophies; “You have to work like a slave to live like a king”. Through sacrifices, perseverance and excellent work ethics, Mr Power was able to mould Power Construction into the pillar of strength that it is today. Meeting such a remarkable man, who doesn’t only visualise South Africa’s growth, but the growth of the continent as a whole and whose work and beliefs has influenced and inspired people far beyond our boarders, is bound to give anyone goose bumps. On meeting Graham Power, my first impression of him was that he is a man of great wisdom and pure grace. This soft-spoken, ageing man still sees himself as not having completed his mission in life.
Power Construction has been in existence for over two decades and boasts the record of not retrenching one of their staff members since its inception. Starting from humble beginnings of an annual turnover of just R300 000, Power Construction grew from strength to strength to become the multi-billion rand company that it is today. Most people can identify good business ethics and even luck as the main contributor to this business’ success. But after spending time with the man behind Power Construction, I beg to differ. There is defiantly more to Power that has made him one of the most respected and admired people within the industry and across others. While most people of his age and statue are enjoying the fruits of their retirements, Graham Power is still doing whatever he can to build South Africa and contributes to the development and growth of the continent as a whole. Our conversation left me with lessons and a sense of inspiration that will last me a lifetime.
Sibu: Besides construction, which other career path did you consider when you were growing up?
If the finances where available for me during the time, I was very interested in Law, but looking back I do not have any regrets about not being a part of that industry.”
Sibu: When did your fascination or love for this industry begin?
I grew up in a very poor environment where my siblings had to leave school at the age of 16 to help take care of us. My involvement was by chance really; my brother in law was a surveyor. After I left school, I did my year of military service. After that I was privileged enough to join Savage and Lovemore as one of their surveyors.”
Sibu: Who or what ignited your drive to become a part of this industry?
This industry has always been very interesting to me. The one thing that I enjoyed the most was that after a days work you could see your work come alive and grow every day.”
Sibu: Your Company was established through you making the big sacrifice of selling your home and properties. What drove you to make such a decision?
I had worked for Savage and Lovemore for 9 years. Although I had grown considerably within the company and I was satisfied with my job, I got tired of the red tape that would always come with me staying at that job. I got frustrated of decisions not being made immediately. But most of all I had always had the drive to start something on my own.”
Sibu: Any regrets?
Zero, I would not have wanted anything to work out differently. I had to gain adequate experience in the industry before I could take such a bold step. With time everything worked out perfectly.”

Sibu: How has your family contributed to your success?
From day one my family has contributed greatly to the success of the business. During the initial stages my kids were very young and my wife was in charge of all the admin work of the business.”
Sibu: Over the first five years since its inception, your company’s turnover multiplied greatly. What was/is your secret?
I could say that my ‘secret’ was the relationships I had formed with the people who worked at my previous place of employment. They referred me whenever there was a project in the pipeline. These were people that I trusted. In the period between the 80’s and 90’s, the construction industry was experiencing its lowest point. The relationships that I have formed prior to that period caused my company to survive that period. Starting out small, my business purely grew through profitability.”
Sibu: You were still young at the time, how did you handle the increasing career pressures and financial growth?
My father-in-law was in the hotel industry, he provided me with a lot of much needed advice during the initial stages of my business. My biggest achievement then was buying my first 2nd hand Toyota bakkie. As for the pressure, I enjoyed it. I thrive on activity; it has always gotten my adrenaline pumping.”
Sibu: During this period did you ever consider selling your business?
Never.”
Sibu: What is the difference between Power Construction now and Power Construction 24 years ago?
Well, the difference is clearly evident. We started on a smallholding, which cost R110, 000 on Sir Lowry’s Pass. There were stables on the holding, which we gradually turned into workstations and offices. Through dedication and hard work we now have four regional offices in Cape Town, Knysna, Nelson Mandela Bay and Pretoria. We are also at a point of considering African initiatives.”
Sibu: The most impressive aspect about your company is the fact that since it’s inception there has never been a retrenched member of staff. How did you manage the hard times?
There were times when we lacked worked, this was mostly during the period where the construction industry was experiencing a downward slump. I can recall three occasions where there were great possibilities for retrenchments. But the reason why we didn’t do this was because our workers had always been loyal to the company. Letting people who were loyal to you during the good times go, when the going got tough did not seem like the right thing to do. On more than one occasion we tendered at a loss.”
Sibu: What does transformation mean to you and how do you project that in the way your company operates?
Today, the word transformation is a very tricky word to use. Personally I believe that transformation involves changing the mindset of people so that they can reach their full potential. The change in systematic poverty is also very important. We should not only focus on Cape Town or South Africa, our responsibility is to focus on Africa as a whole. 10% of the Power Group’s profits go to a trust fund, which is involved in feeding schemes, ministries and HIV/AIDS.”
Sibu: What are your feelings about the potential and growth of the construction industry in the Western Cape?
I am very excited; the industry is going through its first boom since the 1970’s. I have confidence in the South African government and economic growth and sustainability that we have maintained throughout the years. Although apartheid is not a pleasant period to think about, the one positive thing that came out of that period was the development of our country’s infrastructure. That has made South Africa a key player within the continent. I am confident that the growth in South Africa’s construction industry is going to continue way beyond 2010.”
Sibu: Do you think that this industry enables those who were not privileged enough to further their education great development opportunities?
The opportunities within this industry are huge. This is one, if not the only industry, that gives semi skilled individuals the opportunity to be highly productive within a short period of time. The construction industry has a huge responsibility to develop these kinds of people skills. It will be a great investment in the country’s future.”
Sibu: Do you think that South Africa has the adequate amount of skilled and educated personnel to sustain and contribute to the growth of the construction industry?
There are sufficient people, but we lack in sufficient skills. Tertiary institutions should make it a point that they should develop more people. Companies also have the responsibility to train, sponsor and even educate more people who are interested in becoming a part of this industry.”
Sibu: HIV/AIDS is one factor that seems to be dissolving our workforce, what policies or programs does your company have to address these social issues?
For the last five years we have conducted voluntary testing for all our staff members. Everyone has been given at least three opportunities to test him or herself to find out their status. The Power Group provided its infected staff with anti-retorial drugs before the government made such drugs readily available for everyone. We had provided this in collaboration with trained companies. Having returned from Uganda; a state which had turned its HIV statistics from 30% to 6%, the one way to curb the spread of this disease is through encouraging the youth to abstain from any sexual activities until they are ready to commit in marriage.”
Sibu: Where do you rate the Western Cape among the other regions/states in the world?
The Western Cape is one of if not the most beautiful regions in the world. Our weather and scenery will continue to cause us to be the gateway to Africa.”
Sibu: You have travelled around the world, what do you think makes you a proud Capetonian?
Capetonians have this friendly and hospitable nature, which makes visitors feel welcomed from every corner of the world. My one concern though is the level of crime, violence and corruption. Such things should be taken seriously because they tend to contribute to the hindering of the growth of this nation.”
Sibu: What do you like doing when you are not working?
My hobbies are rugby, water sports and reading.”
Sibu: Do you think the South African construction industry is well equipped and ready to ‘polish up’ the country for 2010?
I am optimistic that this industry is going to rise to the occasion. Influencing the Diaspora to return home can always curb the skills shortage issue.”
Sibu: What do you forecast for the industry after 2010?
This industry will continue to grow after 2010. With the demand for tourism in this country, I predict that the hype will continue up to about 2020. This will therefore create a platform for this industry to help with the development of the continent as a whole.”
Sibu: What drives you to continue doing what you are doing?
I believe that God has given me the responsibility to play a part, no matter how big or small in Africa’s transformation.”
Sibu: How do you think we as individuals can contribute towards building South Africa?
We should see the glass as being half full and not half empty. Being positive about this country and caring for your neighbour are the basic things that we need to do. This nation has a special blessing. Its up to us to use that blessing well.”
Sibu: Any last words to people who are aspiring to be where you are one day?
“Everything starts with hard work. In order for anyone to achieve their goals they have to commit themselves to work like slaves so that they can live like kings. Another thing that most people should understand is that experience comes with time. Humility and dedication are the two things that can take you far in life.”
Februarie 2007, Rapport
Met ‘n toenemend diverse arbeidskorps, meen werkgewers al meer dat jy nie verkeerd kan gaan deur polities korrek te wees nie.

Dit geld veral met godsdiens. Daar is ‘n groter sensitiwiteit oor verskillende gelowe wat in een werkplek geakkommodeer moet word en baie werkgewers is huiwerig om in die openbaar oor hul geloof te praat (etlike top-sakelui van verskillende gelowe wou byvoorbeeld nie kommentaar lewer vir dié artikel nie). Só word “Geseënde Kersfees” van kerskaartjies verban en voel baie werknemers hulle moet hul godsdiens by die kantoordeur los.

Maar daar is steeds sakelui wat openlik hul geloof by die werkplek uitleef.

By die Power-konstruksiegroep – wat onder meer vir siviele konstruksie by Century City, N1 Stad, V&A Waterfront, Thesen Eiland (Knysna) en golfbane (onder andere Pearl Valley, Pinnacle Point in Mosselbaai en Serengeti in Gauteng) verantwoordelik was - word daar op boupersele en in raadsale gebid voor enige groot besluite geneem of kontrakte geteken word. Daar is ‘n gebedskamer vir personeel by die hoofkantoor in Kaapstad, middagete-bidure en ‘n interne epos-nuusbrief met personeel se gebedsversoeke.

Die groep se uitvoerende voorsitter, mnr. Graham Power, hou ‘n halfuur stiltetyd in sy kantoor voor hy met sy werk begin. Ná hy in 1999 tot bekering gekom het, het Power onderneem om ‘n “24/7”-Christen te word en sy geloof te versoen met sy sakebestuur.

Ed Silvoso se boek Anointed For Business het hom laat verstaan dat sy onderneming sy bediening is, wat van hom ‘n “markplek-minister” maak.

“Dit is God se onderneming – nie my eie nie.”

Dit is egter nie altyd maklik om ‘n etiese, geloofsgebaseerde organisasie te wees in die konstruksiebedryf, wat berug is vir omkoopgeld en ander onreëlmatighede nie. Power sê daar kom gereeld “versoeke”, maar die groep weier om omkoopgeld te betaal of te ontvang.

Power moes self ‘n paar jaar gelede erken dat hy oor die jare onwettiglik geld in die buiteland gehou het. Hy het dit reggestel en ander Christen-sakelui as deel van die regering se amnestie-proses aangemoedig om dit ook te doen. Sedertdien het hy ook ‘n anti-korrupsieveldtog (“Unashamedly Ethical”) van stapel gestuur waar individue en maatskappye ‘n onderneming teken (beskikbaar by www.int.africa.com) om aan etiese waardes te voldoen. Aan die einde van vanjaar sal ‘n “geelbladsye” publikasie met al dié name gepubliseer word.

Om volgens jou geloof sake te doen het ook ander uitdagings, sê mnr. Abeeb Abrahams van die Islamitiese Albaraka Bank.

“Mens kan gemarginaliseer word vanweë jou geloofsoortuiging.”

Dit is ‘n uitdaging vir ‘n Islamitiese onderneming, wat ‘n Westerse sakekultuur moet sake doen terwyl hy ook aan Islamitiese bepalings, wat onder meer rente verbied, moet voldoen.

Maar Abrahams en Power glo dit is uiteindelik tot ‘n onderneming se voordeel om dit volgens geloofsoortuigings te bestuur.

“(Geloof) voeg waarde toe tot sake, hoofsaaklik vanweë die manier waarin ons mense hanteer - met menswaardigheid en integriteit,” sê Abrahams. “Dit gaan dan daaroor om eerlik, deursigtig en regverdig te wees en alle mense dieselfde te behandel. Dit gaan nie altyd oor die geld en titels nie.”

Om ‘n maatskappy openlik volgens geloofswaardes te bedryf, boesem ook vertroue by ander in oor sy etiese handel en wandel.

Dit is ook goed vir moraal onder werkers om die vryheid te hê om hul godsdiens na die werkplek te bring, sê mnr. Fanie Bekker van die Afrikaanse Handelsinstituut. Hy begin elke dag met nie-verpligtende oggendgodsdiens vir werkemers.

Te midde van toenemende gejaagdheid en spanning oor misdaad en ekonomiese onsekerheid, kan godsdiens en die ruimte vir stiltetyd by die werk ‘n anker vir baie mense wees.

“Een godsdiens moet net nie afgedwing word op werkers nie.”

Abrahams sê daar het die afgelope jare groter toleransie vir verskillende gelowe gekom en daar is welkom erkenning vir belangrike religueuse dae van ander gelowe.

“Hoewel tagtig persent van die Suid-Afrikaanse bevolking Christene is, móét diversiteit in ag geneem word”, sê Power. Sy groep akkommodeer Joodse, Moslem, ander-gelowige en nie-gelowige werkers.

Geloofsgebasseerde ondernemings kan ook ‘n rol speel in opheffing.

POWER glo dat sy geloof hom verantwoordelik maak om terug te ploeg in die gemeenskap.

Tien persent van sy wins gaan sedert 2000 aan ‘n trustfonds wat gebruik word vir opvoeding, vigs, opleiding, opheffingswerk en armoede.

Hier is die woorde van Spreuke 3 vir Power ‘n inspirasie: “Vereer die Here met offerandes; uit al wat jy besit en met die beste uit jou oes; dan sal jou skure oorvol wees en jou parskuipe oorloop van die wyn.”





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