Business profile: Issac Construction Limited

By: Claire Smith

Business profile: Issac Construction Limited Business profile: Issac Construction Limited
Business profile: Issac Construction Limited Business profile: Issac Construction Limited
Business profile: Issac Construction Limited Business profile: Issac Construction Limited
Business profile: Issac Construction Limited Business profile: Issac Construction Limited
Business profile: Issac Construction Limited Business profile: Issac Construction Limited
Business profile: Issac Construction Limited Business profile: Issac Construction Limited
Business profile: Issac Construction Limited Business profile: Issac Construction Limited

For Isaac Construction Limited, good business results from good people, quality equipment, and a strong respect for the environment

With a long and proud history of providing quality construction products and services, Isaac Construction has been part of the Canterbury landscape for more than 60 years.

The company was formed by Sir Neil and Lady Isaac, who after purchasing a five-hectare block on McLean's Island in Harewood Christchurch, began quarrying in 1957. The quarry was initially formed to supply shingle for the creation of Memorial Avenue. As developments continued, so did the demand for shingle, leaving large pits on the land. Looking at the pitted land, the couple were inspired to rehabilitate it. It was the beginning of an incredible conservation journey that continues to this day.

The first area to be rehabilitated by the Isaacs is known as Peacock Springs,
a unique wildlife habitat—including a captive breeding facility—spanning 200 hectares. The site consists of rehabilitated quarry pits and is dominated by extensive vegetation. It is also home to the Heritage Village, which has a number of unique, irreplaceable buildings—including a barn, cottages, a jail, school dental clinic, and a church—from between 1860 and 1940.

In 2009, the Isaac Conservation and Wildlife Trust was formed to continue the vision of Sir Neil and Lady Isaac. The trust works in conjunction with the Department of Conservation and other animal recovery groups and breeds a number of endangered New Zealand birds, reptile, and fish, including black stilt, brown teal, shore plover, tuatara, and North Island brown kiwi.

Isaac Construction is owned by the trust and employs 200 staff throughout the vertically integrated company. Today, Isaac Construction's McLean's Island quarry is surrounded by conservation land spanning 1100 hectares. While the quarry remains the centre of the business, Isaac Construction also provides a full range of services, including construction, surfacing, bitumen products, transport, traffic management, workshop, drainage, and engineering. There is even a laboratory that caters to the company's internal and external quality and compliance testing requirements.

Following the Christchurch earthquake in 2011, Isaac Construction began building a new $11M processing plant. The new plant doubled their earlier production capacity for processed products. The development also includes a new settling pond to recycle wash water back into the processing plant, minimising the demand for fresh water. Their strong environmental focus recently saw Isaac Construction's McLean's Island quarry awarded Aggregate and Quarry Assocation's (AQA) gold award for Environmental Excellence and the Bulk Handlers Australia award for the best environmental project.

The company paid tribute to Sir Neil and Lady Isaac when they accepted the awards, noting the couple were ahead of their time in believing a business could be built while enhancing the environment.

Isaac Construction has been busy over the past few months helping with the State Highway and Hurunui and Kaikoura district clean up after the November earthquake. "The guys really enjoy the challenge and are happy to be helping the region get moving again," says general manager Jeremy Dixon.

"As we've seen in the media, the roads in the region are very bad. It's an unusual environment to be in and certainly provides a number of challenges in terms
of repair work." With such wide-ranging services over a number of divisions, the company is continually updating and adding equipment to their fleet. "We've had a relationship with Gough Cat for decades," Jeremy says. "They often offer us the best option in terms of the gear we're after, serviceability of the plant, service agreements, performance and value of the gear. And on top of that, the service team is exceptionally good to deal with."

As a tier one contractor for Christchurch City Council, Isaac Construction is heavily involved in the construction of the major cycle route project, which will connect suburbs to the central city. The business has invested in a lot of new resource through Gough Cat for this project, which is expected to take three to five years to complete. The cycle routes have special features to help make cycling safe for all ages and to encourage more cyclists and reduce road congestion.

Key to the cycleway project are several new Cat rollers, which have replaced several models that were decades old. "The Cat rollers were a big investment, but they can make a job so much faster," Jeremy says. "We held off purchasing them for too long, to be honest. The guys are thrilled to have the new gear and to be able to get the work done so much more efficiently."

In addition, Isaac Construction have also added several new excavators including a new Cat 308E2 CR Mini Excavator from Gough Cat to its inventory. The compact design of the 308E2 CR means the machine can be used in tight spaces. The radius of the upper body stays within 280mm of the undercarriage, which means the operator can get on with the job at hand without worrying about damaging the back of the machine. "Over the past 12 months, we've been busy with work for Christchurch Council," Jeremy says. "This has required gear that's big enough to do a fair amount of work but small enough to be manoeuvrable, and the new 308E2 CR ticks that box perfectly."

"Gough Cat is a perfect fit for Isaac Construction," says Jeremy. "The company has a long, trusted history in New Zealand and their culture of looking after people aligns well with ours."

Jeremy explains that Isaac Construction's people have worked hard for many decades to earn the company a reputation for excellence. "I see people as our biggest asset and believe that if we provide our people with the right support, the right tools, and the right development plans, then they'll make the best decisions possible, and the company will be a better place to work and by default more successful."

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