Building More Than Just A Business

Building More Than Just A Business

R. Sarabeswar, Chairman and CEO, CCCL Limited.

Leading player in the construction sector, Chennai-based Consolidated Construction Company Limited (CCCL) has come a long way since where they started as a residential and factory-building contractor in 1997. Today, after bagging the prestigious Rs 1,212 crore Chennai airport expansion project from the Airports Authority of India (AAI), CCCL is all set to take on big-ticket infrastructure projects and foray into several other verticals within the infrastructure space. “It’s our single largest order, though we do have expertise in working on six other airport projects,” says R. Sarabeswar, promoter, Chairman and CEO of CCCL. “CCCL has the expertise to handle technical challenges and project management to deliver on high-visibility airport projects. For the first time in India, the Chennai airport is going to have the runway on a bridge. And with expert engineering and construction design team, we are well equipped to handle these challenges,” he adds.

 “We’re tackling the problem from two directions. On one side, we’re using precast and pre-engineered structures, which reduce the number of masons needed. One the other hand, we constantly train new people.”

Now, it plans to expand into contracting work for the railways, gas-pipeline development and mechanical erections. “We want to be across the length, breath and depth of construction. We’re currently looking for business unit heads for these new areas of growth,” says Sarabeswar.

In addition to this, CCCL has also floated a 100 per cent subsidiary, CCCL Infrastructure, to focus on developmental projects. CCCL Infra’s early projects include creating the infrastructure for the Pearl City FoodPort SEZ in Tuticorin, managing an automatic car parking facility in Delhi under the build, operate and transfer model (BOT), a 5 MW solar power plant and the Chennai-Tirupati road connectivity project among others. “CCCL Infrastructure will focus on implementing several new ideas and is part of our expansion and diversification strategy,” says Sarabeswar.

Their growth path

The company was started in the year 1997 by a group of civil engineers who were ex-employees of the construction giant Larsen and Toubro. Sarabeswar, says, “Although, we had vast experience in the construction business, as any newcomer in the business we had to face a fair share of struggles. Even the initial funding from banks was a daunting task with no balance sheet to prove our credibility. We finally secured funding from our first banker, Bank of Baroda.”

But the first project they took up was a stepping-stone for the company. CCCL procured a contract worth Rs.1.4 crore of a congested commercial property that most others refused, sighting technical hassles. The quality of their construction removed any doubts on their inexperience.

Processes in place

The turnaround time for any query that the company may receive is addressed within 24 hours, however complex the nature of the job. This is because the company has delegated responsibility and accountability to several decision makers in all layers of management. “We have  systems and procedures in place to ensure all pending papers are answered immediately. Our reaction time to any query is extremely quick,” says Sarabeswar. There is also clear division of responsibility among the decision makers.

One of the biggest challenges in the construction sector is hiring talent. “We’re tackling the problem from two directions. On one side, we’re using precast and pre-engineered structures, which reduce the number of masons needed. One the other hand, we constantly train new people,” says Sarabeswar.

To create a pool of employable talent in the construction industry, the company set up a 100 per cent subsidiary that trains people from economically weaker sections and absorbs them into their construction and design departments. Apart from continuous training program, the company also emphasises on learning sessions with experts to understand the latest innovations from the construction world.

Making the right move

CCCL’s competence lies in executing real estate projects like office space and IT parks for some of its renowned clients like Infosys, Ascendas, Bosch, HCL and ITC to name a few. The company is known to take up challenging projects right from its inception and follows a very structured job responsibility pattern.

In October 2008 when the economy was in a slump, they realised that it was no longer sustainable to focus only on factories and commercial ventures. The company decided to then take the big-ticket route to infrastructure. “Our core expertise was in building factories thanks to the experience we gathered at L&T,” explains Sarabeshwar. “We, however, strengthened our knowledge and expertise on the infrastructure front in a systematic manner to expand our business spectrum,” he adds. It is no wonder that such insights has resulted in the company bagging some of the most complex infrastructure projects like the airports in Chennai and Thiruvananthapuram.

Coordinating with various sub-contractors to whom they outsource part of their projects and working with a variety of new materials is a challenge that the company has managed to overcome. Its in-house software design division, Yuga Design, a separate profit centre provides integrated, software-based construction engineering design services to its clients and architects. Yuga’s construction and design team works towards converting an architect’s dream to reality. “Some of the designs might have close to 5,000 equations that have to be crunched to make sure the structure is robust. Yuga operates like a BPO operation and we service clients in several countries,” adds Sarabeswar.

The company has recently forayed into foreign markets with Abu Dhabi showing a promising scope in all areas of construction: residential, commercial and infrastructure. “Although we entered the Middle East with a ‘me too’ attitude and started off in Dubai, we’re now working towards giving a good thrust in Abu Dhabi,” says Sarabeswar.

With its focus on various aspects of the infrastructure space in India and a gradual move into international markets, CCCL is all set for its next growth phase.  With its current turnover of Rs. 1,841 crore, strong expertise and the Congress government’s budget backing infrastructure development, CCCL is all set to make deep inroads in this space. Sarabeswar is deeply excited about the opportunities in front of him. He remains calm and adds, “We want to be labeled as a comprehensive construction company with expertise in possibly every spectrum of the construction and infrastructure business.”