ENZA CONSTRUCTION is the construction arm of CROWIE HOLDINGS a diversified infrastructure business with interests in property and construction. Enza Construction handles work in the infrastructure space – building construction, civil construction and residential construction delivery.
Tell us your brief history: academic, professional and your role TODAY
My interest in the construction and property space started with my father’s construction business, who was a bricklayer. I worked there during my school holidays in Greenwood Park, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal. When I completed high school, I undertook a B.Sc. Degree in Building Management at the University of Natal Durban campus which I completed in1993. In my second year of study I got a bursary from Murray & Roberts in Durban and I worked there after finishing my degree. I left Murray & Roberts in 1996 and completed stint as Project Manager at AUB Projects in Johannesburg. In 1998 I joined the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) and looked after the development of new SARB branches. I looked after the property division until 2000 when my brother, Clinton, and I decided to start our business.
What does it mean to you that your colleagues have entrusted you with the position of CEO?
Being an Owner Manager is different to a traditional corporate structure in that I wear multiple hats – I operate as a main shareholder, a business leader as well as an employee. My core strength is that I’m an entrepreneur at heart and we are constantly looking to provide innovative solutions. We believe that this sets us apart from other businesses. We employ around 300 people and that represents 300 families. This is a huge responsibility and we take it seriously.
What would you like to have achieved when you retire?
We have a Board of Directors that I report to and my role is to be bring critical strategic leadership for the greater good of all our stakeholders, our leadership team and employees. I manage expectations in a firm, fair and flexible way given the ever-changing business environments, some very challenging.
How would you describe your management and leadership styles?
This is the key challenge to leadership: how do you get people to follow you and your vision, how do you support people when you need to, how do you get people to be accountable for their actions. I don’t always get it right, but I encourage people to follow my example. I am always looking at the strengths of our people who underpin the business, how do we reward and develop them?
What makes you tick or keeps you awake at night with respect to your position?
I am passionate about the business and sadly you don’t leave that at the front door. My brother and I would like to improve on my father’s legacy. From a transformation point of view, we are one of the largest black-owned and black managed construction businesses and we believe that our success is linked to the transformation of the industry.
One of the concerns is the state of the construction industry and the economy. Since 2011/2012, South Africa has experienced a prolonged downward cycle. The current low margin environment represents a significant challenge to our business.
How do you take part in mentoring others?
We have formal and informal mentorship programme. We have informal interventions that involve our junior professionals and helps them understand the company culture and how we do things. We have formal structures that help us identify, nurture and develop the talent we have. We have an enterprise development programme that involves our partners and service providers, and this is hugely important in developing our networks. This has set us apart from other construction businesses.
If you had to relate a couple of experiences, what would be the highs and what would be the lows of your working career?
The highs have been watching the business grow over the years to a top tier construction company. We have grown our services and have diversified our offering. In 2014 we went through a restructuring process where we rationalized our structure and streamlined the management structure. This has stood us in good stead in terms of our ability to manage the current challenging environment.
What accolades have you and your organisation received recently?
We won the SAIBPP Construction Disruptor Award in 2018 which recognizes the innovative way we package our solutions.
How has the firm fared in terms of achieving its business growth objectives?
The firm has experienced considerable year-on-year growth both in terms of growth in turnover as well as the size of our workforce.
Is transformation considered a key objective at the firm, and if so, how is it attended to?
Enza Construction represents a truly transformed business in terms of race and gender. This is hugely important to us and we would like to build an organization that is a beacon in a transformed sector.
Kindly highlight some recent contributions by the firm to the community and to the relevant professions your professionals are a part of.
We firmly believe in developing the communities that we work in. We have a proactive approach to assisting in the development of supplier networks. We recently established the Enza Training Academy which strives to develop the skills within those communities. I have served on the Council of the South African Council for the Project and Construction Management Professions (SACPCMP) and continue to provide input into various industry bodies.
How does the firm ensure that professionalism and good customer service are upheld?
We have developed a culture of providing client focused solutions and everyone takes extreme ownership within their area of responsibility. We found that in the past it was very easy for people to pass on problems to somebody else and we have changed that. Our clients are seeing that in our project delivery – that is how we continue to secure repeat work. This bodes well for our future.
When you not at work, what do you get up to and where can people follow you online?
I love jogging and cycling. I’m an avid user of Facebook as Rowan Crowie.