Basil Read Holdings LTD : Building the Blocks to a Nation’s Success

South Africa is going through mighty changes at present and as it enters unchartered business waters it is comforting that the nation can depend upon experienced organisations steeped in history.

One such entity is Basil Read Holdings Limited, a company that has surfed the highs and lows of business and today stands proud as a specialist within construction, development, engineering and mining in South Africa and internationally.

The Basil Read story began in 1952 when Basil Leonard Read set up his own construction company and backed by its core values of integrity, honesty and respect, has survived numerous boom and bust periods to become one of the leading global construction houses.

BasilRead1With headquarters in Boksburg, Johannesburg and further offices in Durban and Cape Town, Basil Read has evolved into a JSE-listed blue chip company with an industry reputation for its ability to tackle technical challenges head-on and fast-track projects, while consistently upholding the highest standards in safety, quality and environmental best practices.

The company’s listing in 1987 was a notable landmark and along the way the group also achieved a landmark empowerment deal in 2005 before coming top of the Sunday Times Top 100 Companies Survey in both 2008 and 2009.

The group has very much embraced environmental concerns with its design and construction capabilities. Basil Read Green Energy Projects underlines the group’s commitment to sustainability and the environment. Nurseries are developed on all projects to propagate 500,000 trees and shrubs for planting on the new developments and creating vegetable gardens. All development houses are designed to maximise energy efficiencies, and every house built incorporates a solar water heater and energy efficient lighting is encouraged.

Basil Read has attained its success through diversification and today operates four divisions: construction, engineering, mining and development.

Construction has always been the foundation for the group’s phenomenal success and has been structured to specialise in a number of sectors. Basil Read Buildings is helping to reshape South Africa’s construction industry by developing a single integration solution that houses its expertise, innovation and quality drives.

Projects are varied and include building hospitals and hotels as well as the Basil Read Campus, the group’s new head office, which has been designed and built to the latest trends in green-building standards. The 4,000 square metre comprises of four floors of office space and contains a large auditorium and a fully licensed restaurant on the ground floor.

Although the building faces east-west, the architectural design promotes natural light, and the lifts boast glass fronts.

The company was also responsible for the construction of the West Coast Mall, located on the R45 to Saldanha Bay. This project underlines Basil Read’s capabilities and the R365 million development (spearheaded by Retail Africa) is expected to give a much needed shot in the arm for the West Coast economy.

Basil Read Civils also sits within the group’s Construction Division and has developed a strong reputation for reliability and quality within both the government and private sectors with the best in civil engineering and construction. The company can boast specialised technical and engineering expertise and this has stood Basil Read Civils in good stead as South Africa develops its infrastructure.

The Construction Division also works on road projects – an area that offers great potential given the nation’s need for improved transport infrastructure. There are currently five live projects including the rehabilitation of the N1 Fonteintjie near Bloemfontein. This two-year contract is scheduled for completion by October 2012, and the site team have had to deal with major floods to road accidents that take place on the N1 route between Johannesburg and the Cape Province.

The Basil Read Engineering Division is largely handled by TWP, which merged with Basil Read in 2009. TWP has historically provided expertise on some of the largest and most complex projects in the mining industry and has built a strong reputation as an engineering consultancy. TWP offers clients all the resources traditionally held in-house by bigger mining houses meaning the company is highly adaptable.

Aside from TWP, the Basil Read Mining Division has evolved into one of Southern Africa’s foremost names in this challenging sector. Through its subsidiary B&E (Blasting & Excavating), it offers clients a range of services and is a specialist supplier of drilling, blasting and crushing services to the mining, quarrying and civil engineering industries, and together with Basil Read Mining forms a diversified and highly skilled unit.

At present Basil Read Mining is working at the DeBeers Venetia Mine Percussion Drilling Project – an open pit mine and an ongoing contract that began in 2008. The company is also currently working in Botswana for the Debswana Diamond Company and in Namibia at the Trekkopje Mine, located 140 kilometres north east of Swakopmund.

Basil Read Developments can call upon over 50 years of experience in installing civil infrastructure to help develop South Africa. The company has focused on replacing informal settlements with sustainable new hosing developments.

At present the company is working on the Savanna City project in Gauteng, a private greenfields development 35km from Johannesburg’s CBD and adjacent to Orange Farm. The farm was purchased by Basil Read and Old Mutual to develop a mixed use, sustainable integrated housing development.

Basil Read reached an important milestone in 2005 when it became the first truly black-empowered construction enterprise. As a level (3) 110% BBBEE Contributor, the company had always focused on delivering meaningful transformation and Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment.

The company has also adopted a corporate-wide stance on Safety, Health, Environment and Quality (SHEQ), which have become the linchpin of all operations. Basil Read was the first South African construction company to achieve certification for all its activities throughout each operating division.

This was accomplished by reviewing each process and putting the right checks and balances in place, while the introduction of a dedicated Group Environmental Officer helped the company to attain ISO 14001 accreditation.

Have already accomplished so much over the past 60 years, the name Basil Read has a big part to play as South Africa undergoes further transition. The next twelve months promise further intrigue as the group has set the bar higher: to become a R10 billion turnover global construction group by 2013.