Father and son firm now a $1.5bn juggernaut

Power achieved his boyhood ambition taking over the reins of the $1.5bn Brisbane construction business founded by his father Mick more than 40 years ago.“I grew up driving around construction sites on the weekend with my dad,” said Mr Power, the chief executive of BMD Group.“I always wanted to be my dad, but not everyone gets the opportunity.” The 47-year-old is now positioning BMD for the next stage of its growth, riding a post-Covid infrastructure boom and expanding further into Asia.Mr Power said his father never envisaged BMD would become one of the country’s largest privately-owned construction companies, employing 2000 people and working on mega projects such as Brisbane’s Legacy Way and Brisbane Airport’s second runway.But he said his father always seized competitive opportunities when they presented themselves.Mick Power was working for construction firm Leighton on the Gold Coast in 1979 when the construction giant decided to cut back on the amount of work it was doing on the booming tourist strip. “Leighton decided they were not going to do any contracts under $30,000,” said Scott Power. “My dad decided there and then to set up his own business and take on that work. I don’t think dad had the idea the company would become so big but he always backed himself and has been prepared to back his people.” Mick Power was this year ranked as Australia’s 156th richest person in The List – Australia’s Richest 250 with a fortune of $744m.Mr Power said his father remains chairman of BMD Group, but the day-to-day running of the business is now in the hands of the younger generation. Scott Power’s brother Dare now sits on the board with a coterie of experienced managers helping direct the business.“There are several of us in our late 40s who have stepped up,” said Scott Power. “One of the strengths of BMD has been that we have generational change.” BMD has long rewarded loyalty, with a special club for employees who have served more than 20 years. “You can’t replace experience and in our case we have 90 people in the 20 year club,” he said. Mr Power said the company was on the verge of major growth as governments around the country invested in major infrastructure projects to kickstart the post Covid-19 economy.“It is going to be an infrastructure-led recovery with a pipeline of projects coming over the next five years,” he said. “With the Olympics bid, this region is on the verge of something great with projects like Queen’s Wharf and Cross River Rail likely to have the same transformative impact as Expo 88.”BMD was looking to diversify beyond road and transport infrastructure with forecasts it can boost revenue more than a third to over $2bn over the next few years. “Queensland still makes up about 40 per cent of the business, but our story over the past few years has been the move to become a broad national business,” said Mr Power.He said the company’s involvement in the $1.5bn Legacy Way tunnel a decade ago had been transformative and given the business the ability to expand both nationally and internationally. “We were working with these European construction giants and it gave us confidence in the strength of our business,” he said. BMD expanded into the Philippines in 2017 after initially working on a port project and now has a full-time presence there. “We are looking at other markets in Asia such as Vietnam and Indonesia where growth has been constrained by lack of infrastructure,” he said. He said BMD had emerged largely unscathed from Covid-19 with the construction sector considered an essential service. “Covid for us had the effect of bringing people together,” he said. “We have become more collaborative and post Covid we hope that continues.”The pandemic also had reinforced the need for Australia to maintain its construction industry, particularly support for family-owned companies such as BMD, Hutchinsons and Wagners. “There is a need for us to maintain our sovereign capacity in this area to ensure skills are kept in Australia,” Mr Power said. He said BMD had been pushing for mid-tier companies to be given a greater opportunity to bid for mega projects that traditionally had been dominated by large foreign-owned multinationals. “Foreign firms have a place in the market, and there are obviously projects of scale that require them,” he said. “But where a project can be broken down into smaller contracts to allow firms like ours to bid it should be encouraged.” Mr Power said the Queensland Government already was doing this with key projects such as the Coomera Connector road and Gympie Bypass.

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