This is the full article by Jackie Whitelaw of Infrastructure Intelligence, a shorter version of which is on the Infrastructure Intelligence website http://bit.ly/1j1P9xD
Tim Fitch and Brendan Morahan are two very successful, highly skilled contractors who have pooled their experience to create Invennt, a business that offers management consultancy advice with a contracting edge. Jackie Whitelaw reports.
You are a contractor, a consultant or a supplier; you have had a torrid time in the recession being squeezed by your clients. Now though, the UK construction economy is improving and your skills are in demand. Clients are offering all sorts of collaboration contracts to tie you into them but which of those offers are good for you? Would it be better to work on a traditional transactional basis? And which deals do you ignore all together?
Now think yourself into the position of a client. How do you continue to extract best value from your supply chains but operate in a way that attracts the quality organisations to keep working with you?
“Those issues are examples of the dilemmas facing many construction companies, from operators to manufacturers” says Invennt partner Brendan Morahan. “And we are here to help them find the answers.”
Morahan with business partner Tim Fitch created Invennt in 2011 to share with the wider market the sharply contrasting skills and knowledge they had acquired over long, high level careers in major contracting.
Fitch, 49, is a qualified, university educated civil engineer with an MSc in soil mechanics and another in the strategic management of projects. He ran a division of Cementation before moving to Taylor Woodrow as business development director where he set the strategy for the company’s dramatically successful rail business. Morahan, 50, started with Taylor Woodrow aged 16 as surveyor, became a chartered builder and during a 30 year career set up and ran the Taylor Woodrow infrastructure division which involved creating one business from 23 disparate parts. When the business was sold to Vinci, he took on the role of managing director of Vinci Civil Engineering.
Morahan and Fitch are now management consultants but unlike most management consultants who have their roots in accountancy and finance, the Invennt boys believe the mud on their boots brings with it a special sort of insight. “We are selling what we have learned from our very different experiences,” Fitch explains.
As Invennt their aim is, as the company mission statement sums up, to “create value through construction” and during their careers the two men have reputations for knowing just how to do that. The value they can help find is for everyone involved in the construction process, Morahan stresses. “Our industry has a habit of eroding value but what is crystal clear to us is that there are a great many opportunities to create it instead.”
Advice offered by Invennt falls into three main categories – strategic business planning, strategic business development and operational improvements. And under those headings Invennt can provide advice on issues like collaboration along with business relationships, process and systems optimisation, risk control through better governance and project implementation.
“There are big consultancies doing this sort of work but in a more theoretical way and they don’t have the context,” Morahan says. “Also there is no risk of juniors being sent in to do the work once the deal has been done. You get us.”
The company’s style is direct. “We don’t sit on the fence and present alternatives,” Fitch says. “We tell it like it is and offer a value view. Sometimes we are telling people things they don’t want to hear but we have to be able to be honest, it is the way we are. Some people might think that is a surprising business model but we are getting results and more clients all the time.”
Those clients include blue chip infrastructure commissioning authorities, main contractors, manufacturers and suppliers from tier ones, twos and threes to small businesses looking to better themselves.
“We have recently completed some work with a £50M turnover contractor who said he needed help in getting his projects finished on time,” says Fitch. “We didn’t go in and sort the projects out but we did take a hard look at the business and found problems at the front end – marketing and tendering were not in sync, the company was pursuing the wrong work and winning the wrong work. The company now knows what needs to be done; but they need to make the changes.”
Morahan adds: “If you get the right people behind the right idea you can have a lot of fun and create a lot of success. But if the fundamentals are not right then all you get is pain and loss.
“We work with people who are trying to find a better way to run their business or have a sound business but need a better outlet for it.
“Though we are not an introduction service, we can for instance help customers understand the good and bad ways of engaging with industry and if they want to do it in a good way, put out the right signals that will attract the best companies.”
Fitch is the more out going, cerebral part of the Invennt team, Morahan the calm, pragmatic one. The two men have recognised that they were a perfect business match since Morahan hired Fitch to bring his business development and networking skills to create a rail income for Taylor Woodrow infrastructure in 2004. Fitch achieved this organically from an almost standing start by insisting the business focus only on London rail work. What was £30M turnover was £130M in four years and these days it is looking at £450M.
Morahan left Taylor Woodrow in 2009 and established his own consultancy; Fitch joined him in 2011 and they rebranded the business which this March is celebrating five years as a trading entity.
The idea for the Invennt brand emerged from the traditional construction industry practice of sketching explanations of complex concepts. “We were drawing a lot of overlapping circles surrounding our different skills, Brendan’s in strategic and business operation, mine in business development and the management of projects,” Fitch says. “We realised we had a Venn diagram and it was a short step from there to Invennt.”
Both men know there is a lot of work for them to do in the construction sector and Morahan in particular is on a crusade to change the industry for the better. “I want to be creating real difference,” he says. “I am interested in the industry and companies within it becoming better and would love people to be inspired by construction and want to come and work in it. At its best our industry is brilliant but the rump drags it down; I want to raise aspirations from simply improving margins by suppressing other people’s profit to genuinely increasing value for all.”
For Fitch a good business needs an entrepreneurial spirit. “And you require assertiveness, a resolute plan and then the drive to act on that plan,” he says. “That’s what we can do for companies. We can diagnose and sort out their problems and chart the next move – a sort of sat-nav for construction.”
If you have ambitions for the business you are in, whether as a client, contractor, consultant or supplier and are interested in creating value through construction please contact:
Brendan on 07816 514505, firstname.lastname@example.org, @BrendanMorahan
Tim on 07816 517590, email@example.com, @TimRFitch.