David & Seamus Duggan were destined to take on the role of construction industry professionals. They are joint Managing Directors of leading
construction company Duggan Brothers and were happy to share the story of their journey and their insights with Irish Construction Industry Magazine.

ICIM: What attracted you to the construction industry in the first place?

SD&DD: Duggan Brothers is a family run business hence for both of us growing up it was hard not to want to get involved. Growing up in such an environment where you are continuously exposed to building sites and the business you can’t help but gain a healthy interest in the industry. The company was founded in 1926 by our grandfather and his brother, the original Duggan Brothers, and David and I took over as joint managing directors from our father, Kevin, in 2010.

ICIM: Briefly chart your career path to date.

SD&DD: We both went to college to pursue careers in construction – David focused on construction management while I studied construction economics. After our degrees we both spent some time working abroad “learning our trades” before returning home to get involved with the business. David now takes the lead in terms of construction management and production while I concentrate more on the commercial and contractual aspects of the business. This is a good formula that spreads the management burden and affords both of us the time to operate effectively in leading and managing the business. As brothers we have a strong relationship and a collective vision for the business which is essential to our roles as joint managing directors. Furthermore, it is always beneficial to have someone to bounce ideas and strategies off.

ICIM: What attributes and leadership skills do you think are most important when heading up a construction company?

SD&DD: A collaborative approach and a strong vision that is communicated in a clear and open manner. Construction is a very diverse industry and success involves collaboration and teamwork drawing together an extensive array of disciplines both internally within our own organisations and externally from our clients, design teams and supply chain. In our business and on our projects we put a lot of focus on being team players and creating the right working environment.
Coupled with this a strong vision for the company and for our approach to project delivery is essential so that there is a clear company ethos that people can identify with and buy into. For this to work communication is the key and this is something that we all have to work on to ensure that we get the best return from our people and project delivery teams.

ICIM: What are the key strengths and qualities of Duggan Brothers and how do you maintain a competitive edge?

SD&DD: At the risk of sounding a bit cliched our people are one of our primary strengths. Many of our staff members have been with us for a long time, are very experienced, professional in their approach and fully understand and buy into our company culture and what we are about in terms of how we carry out our business. We put a strong emphasis on CPD and the pursuit of additional training and career development which greatly benefits our staff on a personal level but also the company as a whole and is instrumental in its ability to meet the growing needs and demands of the industry.

Duggan Brothers have been building for over ninety years and during this time have earned a reputation as a fair and professional construction partner for our clients and design teams. We take a long term view and we understand the individual needs of our clients and their projects.

We have also built very strong relationships with our supply chain through our partnering and collaborative approach which aids our competitiveness and ability to deliver on tight programmes while upholding our standards in terms of safety, quality and cost effectiveness.

Furthermore, to gain a competitive edge we have a policy of promoting innovation and development within all aspects of our business and project delivery. This involves continuous investment such as in software, BIM and cloud based project management systems.

ICIM: How would you assess Duggan Brother’s performance in 2016? How would you describe performance so far in 2017?

SD&DD: 2016 was a reasonable year for us and whilst trading conditions and market levels remained competitive the increased tendering opportunities have been welcome. This has allowed us to continue to grow our annual turnover which has increased year on year from the lows of the recent recession and to do this on a sustainable basis. The significant increase in activity within the private sector has been the most encouraging change through the year and this bodes well for the future as we look for a more balanced split between our private and public order books. The biggest downside in terms of the national picture is the centred focus on the Dublin market and the comparative lack of viable opportunities throughout the rest of the country.

On the back of last year we were quite positive about our trading prospects for 2017 having entered it with a good level of secured workflow. However at the end of Q1 2017 we have not seen the volume of high level tendering opportunities that we might have expected and this is reflected in what is a very competitive market. The industry needs an uplift in tender margins to ensure sustainability into the future. The project delivery process is becoming more costly and onerous with Contractors taking more and more responsibility and risks while providing additional supplementary roles in BIM, services coordination and management and taking a lead role in the BC(a)R process, yet margins have not increased to adequately reflect these additional costs.

Furthermore, there are a number of specific key risk factors that do not appear to be properly factored into current tender prices such as the lack of skilled tradespeople and management staff in addition to wage and price inflation. Notwithstanding these factors and the associated risks we estimate that based on current work load and future projections that we are on target to continue to grow our annual turnover this year.

For a more extensive article see our May/June 2017 Issue of Irish Construction Industry Magazine available on subscription, contact Linda Doran