Whittens Group was formed in 2001 by Clayton, Tyron and Louise Whitten, who shared a vision to create a family-run business with a nationwide reputation. Since its inception, the contractor has developed into a giant of the Australian construction industry, servicing multiple sub-sectors and working with the biggest and best firms in heavy industries such as oil and gas and mining. The wholly Australian-owned private enterprise provides a full turnkey service to its clients or specialised jobs at any stage of the construction cycle. Over two decades, Whittens has established a stellar reputation for successfully delivering high profile, large projects through closely aligning its approach with the needs of the client.
The company has been built with strong family-orientated values at the very foundation and continues to be led by the Whitten family. Clayton and Tyron remain at the forefront in executive director roles, while Louise continues as CEO after amassing over 20 years’ experience in senior management roles.
Whittens maintains that the success and gradual expansion of the business over the last 15 years or so is intrinsically linked to its foundation values. These values extend across several overarching principles such as safety, passion, team work, loyalty, hard work, and professionalism. These core values underpin the entire business and are a pre-requisite for all Whittens employees.
“When Clayton, Tyron and I started this business we knew what we wanted to stand for and what we wanted to achieve,” Louise proclaims.
“Our values have supported our vision, driven our performance and shaped the identity and culture of our business from day one. Values are extremely important, especially in a large company where values can become diluted.
“Companies don’t perform, people do! If you want to attract and retain engaged, productive and passionate people that perform in challenging environments, you have to work hard at keeping the Culture that has made the business a success.
“Whittens’ success can largely be attributed to a core team of long term, multi-skilled employees that demonstrate our values every day.”
The construction division has consistently delivered high value to its clients across a variety of offerings which include bulk and detailed earthworks from site clearance, haulage, excavation and water cartage. Whittens also specialises in many forms of concrete construction all of which are underpinned by ISO approved quality systems.
Other tailor-made services provided by the company to its partners are water management, Structural, Mechanical and Piping (SMP), remedial and ancillary works.
“Whittens commenced business in residential construction and then moved into commercial and industrial construction. Today, we service many industries including infrastructure, oil and gas, mining, defence, energy and utilities.”
Simply glancing at the company’s extensive highlights reel of completed projects begins to give an idea of the strength and breadth of its services to the sprawling Australian construction industry.
Beginning with water infrastructure, Whittens is currently working alongside UGL WSP JV to deliver the Riverstone Waste Water Treatment Plant for Sydney Water. The scope of the project involves provision of formwork, reinforcement and concrete pouring for the construction of a biological reactor, biological reactor distribution chamber, secondary flow distribution, secondary clarifiers, three off RAS pump stations, tertiary flow distribution chamber, and tertiary clarifier.
The company also executed a major bulk and detailed earthworks and concrete project for MMG, at Dugald River. Included amongst the concrete package are major structures such as a reclaim tunnel raft foundation, together with foundations for the SAG, ball and regrind mills. The plant site bulk earthworks comprises the construction of roadworks, drainage, HDPE lined ponds and tailings storage facility, together with the installation of HDPE piping and electrical cabling.
Another standout development which Whittens took part in was the massive Gorgon LNG project on Barrow Island, WA. The scope of work undertaken involved providing resources for the construction of in-situ concrete works and other civil and underground services as required by the project leaders up to the end of 2015.
“Whittens has adapted and diversified and evolved as opportunities have arisen to grow and develop the business” says Louise.
“Today, we employ some of the best people in our industry. Again, it’s all about our people and the performance of our people. The skills of our people in combination with the systems that we have developed over time are applied to all projects, regardless of the industry.”
The national mining industry makes up a significant portion of all construction-related business in Australia, and over the years Whittens has repeatedly tapped into this and developed a strong level of expertise, gaining the trust of clients from junior outfits right up to the biggest mining companies in the world.
The first mining project that jumps off the page from Whittens’ portfolio is the massive Roy Hill iron ore project in the Pilbara, WA. Back in 2014, Whittens delivered concrete works to the mine site, which included three ROM walls and the coarse ore stockpile tunnels and vaults. The combined volume of concrete used by Whittens at the project equated to 16,000m³ of concrete.
The quality of the service provided at the Roy Hill mine was confirmed in the fact that the owners came back for repeat business with Whittens not long afterwards when the purpose-built iron ore port facility at Port Hedland was being constructed.
Of the mining projects that Whittens is currently engaged on, it is undertaking repair and renovation work at BHP’s Mt Whaleback iron ore mine in the Pilbara, proving that the company can provide its high-quality services even at the post-construction stage.
Most recently, the company was awarded a $10 million contract, its sixth major contract win of 2017, for work on Pilbara Mineral’s Pilgangoora lithium-tantalum mine in WA. Along with the provision of 5,800m³ of concrete, Whittens will complete the construction of crushing, wet processing and spodumene concentration dressing infrastructure, as well as processing plant services.
One of the main challenges faced by Whittens in the Australian mining sector is working on remote sites, such as those found in the Pilbara region of WA. “Whittens overcomes these challenges associated by planning each project well in advance,” reveals Louise.
“We collaborate closely with our clients and our project team prior to anyone going to site. Leadership is the key element that can decide the success of a project in a remote area.
“We empower each of our leaders to act like they own the business, we reduce management layers to ensure quick management decisions and we give our leaders the opportunity to select their own team. This has proven to be a very successful business model for us.”
Looking forward, Whittens will continue to build on its business with the original family values still at the heart of all its endeavours across all its current focus sectors notably the mining and resources industries.
However, one project that it is currently working on does provide a glimpse into the company’s future business. Whittens is constructing concrete bases at the Sapphire Wind Farm in NSW, and with Australia on the cusp of a renewable energy revolution, Whittens might just fancy itself to take on all the heavy lifting in this burgeoning industry.