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Engineering Success For New Zealand Business

Global Partners
New Zealand engineering consultancy Beca Carter Hollings & Ferner Ltd has a new international business partner - engineering conglomerate AGRA Inc., one of Canada’s largest engineering, construction and technology firms with 7000 employees in 26 countries. AGRA’s acquisition of Vancouver based engineering firm HA Simons, sees AGRA become a 50% shareholder in Beca Simons, a joint venture between BCHF and HA Simons, servicing the forest industries in New Zealand and food and beverage sectors offshore.

Peter Janson, President and CEO, AGRA Inc visited New Zealand this week to find out more about AGRA’s new partner and meet his New Zealand counterpart, Beca Group Chairman, Sir Ron Carter. Janson’s first significant international trip since his appointment to the helm of AGRA five months ago is part of his mandate to drive growth at AGRA. He says,

“North America represents some 80% of AGRA’s business. The HA Simons acquisition supports our strategic goal of global leadership and international growth for our core business, engineering, construction and technology in new regions such as South East Asia. The Beca/AGRA Simons partnership will provide synergies that will generate tremendous value and opportunity for our customers, employees and shareholders. New sectors such as food and beverage where Beca has considerable expertise are of particular interest to AGRA.”

AGRA brings significant technical and management resources to the partnership, particularly in the heavy power and petrochemical industries, which creates opportunities for diversification into new sectors for Beca and AGRA Simons and strengthens further its ability to service the Australasian market. Engineering success beyond 2000 will rely heavily on strategic alliances with international partners, says Beca Chairman, Sir Ron Carter.

“It’s taken 30 years to reach 1100 employees at Beca - the next 1100 won’t take that long. Partnerships are the key to maximising resources and opening up new markets. The challenge is finding partners with compatible goals and similar philosophies like ‘best world practice’. The ‘think globally act locally’ slogan rings true with opportunities opening up for Beca in established AGRA Simons regions such as Mexico and new industry sectors like heavy power, hydro/petro chemical and pharmaceutical. Adding AGRA’s knowledge and resources to our existing capabilities in pulp and paper, mining and consumer goods makes for a very exciting union.”

Beca Simons has the experience and systems to undertake projects with a capital value in excess of NZ$ 100 million but is more accustomed to projects with a value of less than NZ$ one million. AGRA is no stranger to mega projects in the billion-dollar price bracket, AGRA’s proprietary project management system was chosen for the $ 20 billion Three Gorges project in China. The ability to design and build projects and offer the total engineering package including finance is hugely important in securing major projects in today’s engineering market says Sir Ron.

“Investment capital and new technologies come predominantly from the Northern Hemisphere. Alternately the Southern Hemisphere often needs access to project finance and technology and in this respect international partnerships like Beca and AGRA are a perfect fit. Despite recent setbacks in the Asian economies, the APEC initiative demonstrated regional trade opportunities, an increased mutual recognition of professional skills in the region and potential for investors. We are very positive about the future.”

Future developments in technology based solutions for the engineering sector were also on the agenda during Janson’s visit. The globalisation of trade and the impact of the Internet on the way business is conducted are the future of engineering says Janson.

“AGRA has invested considerably in this area to maximise project delivery through the web and Beca already use project web sites for communication. Contracting and utilising the best available technical resources in the world on a 24 hour a day basis is what our customers are expecting from us. Having strong business partners with significant technical and management resources available in different time zones will continue to be a major factor in the success of both of our businesses.”

Note to editors:
The Beca organisation is New Zealand’s largest privately owned multi-disciplinary engineering consulting practice and is ranked 78th in the top 200 international design firms (Source: Engineering News Record).
With approximately 1,100 staff and the head office in Auckland, the Beca organisation has offices across New Zealand (Wellington, Christchurch, Tauranga, Hamilton, New Plymouth) and affiliated or associated companies in Sydney, Melbourne, Port Moresby, Singapore, Brunei, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur and Suzhou.

Beca is a diversified, multidisciplinary consultancy and provides consulting engineering and related consultancy services to a wide range of client sectors including industrial (food and beverage, forestry, mining & metals, power systems), water and wastewater, roading and commercial building.

The practice has undertaken projects in 41 countries and designs and supervises projects of a total value in excess of NZ$ 2,000 million annually. Recent local projects include the terminal expansion at Wellington and Auckland International Airports, Thorndon Overbridge Retrofit in Wellington and the Sky Tower & Casino in Auckland. Current projects include the Wellington Stadium, co-engineering for the Manukau Waste Water Treatment Plant and the 338 m Macau Tower.

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