Profile: Infracon

By: Cameron Officer

Infracon Infracon
Infracon Infracon
Infracon Artist’s concept (top right) shows where this dish will sit in the finished skate park Infracon
Infracon Infracon
Infracon Divisional manager Gavin Bush and assets manager Dean Gough Infracon
Infracon Infracon
Infracon Work remains covered to prevent use before completion Infracon
Infracon Infracon
Infracon Bruce McDermott alongside the Jason Parkes-designed skate park Infracon

While Hawke’s Bay civil engineering and construction company Infracon has a wide-ranging network and a long list of big ticket projects under its belt, it doesn’t mind getting its hands dirty with the smaller stuff either.

Profile: Infracon
Concrete specialist Angus McMillan has to get things just right

'Scope' is something Infracon Limited understands: given the breadth of services the company offers, as well as the combined geography it covers, it's a vital concept for the company.

It's also a component of the job Hastings divisional manager Gavin Bush is still getting his head around, having only been in the role for three months. Still, with years of senior level experience in waste management and private contracting (not to mention a passion for Hawke's Bay), Bush already speaks with enthusiasm about Infracon's (wide-reaching) projects.

The company now boasts divisional depots covering Hawke's Bay, Central Hawke's Bay and Tararua, along with specialist arms looking after drainage, aggregates and energy project work.

With around 225 staff spread across the region, Infracon doesn't appear to be kidding when it announces on its corporate website that it is invested in "building bridges, moving mountains, filling potholes" — sums it all up rather nicely.

"We certainly get involved in a lot of different areas," confirms Bush when I meet with him at Infracon's Hastings office. "We have big roading maintenance contracts and we're involved in parks maintenance and facilities management, too.

"We also undertake a lot of underground pipe work — sewer lines, storm water, gas reticulation and the like. In fact, I'd like to think Infracon has quite a name when it comes to underground works. We've been putting pipes in the ground for many years now and the Council trusts us with what is a specialist area, which is very rewarding."

With such a varied workload and a wide-ranging area to cover, there is a need for a comprehensive fleet of vehicles and machines. I ask Infracon's assets manager Dean Gough — almost jokingly — if he knows the numbers off by heart. My jaw drops ever-so-slightly when he effortlessly rattles off some figures.

"Yes, we've got 170 COF vehicles, 50 excavators and 12 graders. We run around 500 vehicles in total, give or take a few," he says with a grin.

But on the subject of brand loyalties with its machinery, Bush explains that Infracon doesn't have any as such.

There are engineers on staff to look after the equipment though, with the biggest workshop being in Dannevirke, servicing Infracon gear as far afield as Pahiatua and Linton.

As if to illustrate the scope (that word again) of works Infracon gets involved with, Bush highlights both a current project and a future one that are worlds apart, but which Bush and the Infracon team tackle with equal enthusiasm.

The proposed Ruataniwha Water Storage scheme is at one end of the scale, with a large dam to be constructed on the upper Makaroro River in among the rolling (and drought-prone) hills of Central Hawke's Bay, near Waipawa.

Naturally such a project has many local contractors excited by its potential, not least Infracon. With a vast irrigation plan for the Tukituki catchment area as a result of the dam, Bush and his team see the scheme as a major positive for the area's economy.

"The idea behind the Ruataniwha project is to retain and distribute water to the region, which is subject to seasonal drought.

"If the irrigation component goes ahead, there'll be the need to bring water to their gates: that's over 200km of small pipe laying that will be required and, naturally, with the tendering process possibly getting underway as soon as October, we'd love to be involved," he says.

As to something a little closer to home for the Hastings team, Bush takes me into the city centre to an impressive new skate park facility that is nearing completion.

Site manager Bruce McDermott takes me for a tour around the busy work zone, still teeming with 30 or so concrete and block layers, hot mix experts, landscapers and lighting installation crews.

"This sort of facility is becoming more necessary in urban areas. Let's face it: thanks to the popularity of events like the X Games, for a lot of councils skate parks are becoming the new swimming pools," McDermott says, in reference to provincial town council penchants for building public swimming pools a generation or two ago.

Designed by preeminent Kiwi skate park designer Jason Parkes (handy name, that), this particular facility has — as far as such facilities go — all the bells and whistles, with banks, stair sets, ledges, seats and a deep bowl set to feature. The site will also contain a nice swathe of parkland to one side, with public toilets and a children's playground at the opposite edge. All in all it's an impressive facility just a short stroll from Hastings' main thoroughfares.

"It's great for a company like ours to get involved in this sort of project," says Bush. "I guess it shows that, despite being a big entity, we're not wholly set just on chasing the biggest tender opportunities.

"Within its own sphere, this kind of project can have just as much community impact as a major road or an irrigation scheme."

Goes to show it really is all about scope for Infracon Limited, then — both big and small.

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