Big Interview: Stuart McGregor, Trans Gulf

The Trans Gulf general manager has overseen a period of big change

INTERVIEWS, MEP, Al Naboodah Construction Group, Mep contractor, Trans Gulf Electro Mechanical

It is no secret that Trans Gulf Electro-mechanical has been going through a number of changes over the last 12 to 18 months. The MEP contractor is now wholly-owned by the Al Naboodah Construction Group, resulting in Trans Gulf and Al Naboodah MEP becoming fully amalgamated. In addition, Stuart McGregor was appointed as general manager to oversee the restructuring of the two MEP firms and drive growth and profitability in the new business.

Englishman McGregor describes 2015 as a “real time of reflection, review and change” for the company.

“We have completely restructured the business, redefined management roles and responsibilities, implemented new procedures and processes and implemented robust controls from estimating to procurement and operation to commercial,” he says.

“We are now a great team with a great business delivery ethic and a totally ‘can do’ attitude.”

The focus for Trans Gulf now, according to McGregor is “sustainable growth through sensible, considered decision making”.

“Too many contractors sign up to contracts with programmes or terms they cannot meet, promising dreams and delivering nightmares,” he says. “Trans Gulf has a good reputation in the market and my aim is to make it great by delivering what we say we will.

“We want to work with main contractors who have the same objective as us and who recognise working together to achieve success is the right way.”

He sees a big move into BIM currently. Trans Gulf has a full in-house BIM team delivering data rich 3D models for construction purposes, led by BIM manager Chris Milford.

“We are also strategising on getting BIM into FM and building management. We have experienced staff that have performed this in other countries and regions and they are aligning our current capabilities to enable this to become a client offering,” McGregor says. “BIM is talked about a lot within the region and many companies claim they can deliver BIM, but most of those simply out-source 3D modelling and believe it to be BIM.

“It is important that contracts are set with an understanding at the start of the process as to what the final expectation of the BIM model is,” he says. “Only that way will the true and full value of BIM be realised.”

Trans Gulf is currently using BIM to deliver an AW Rostmani-owned mixed-use project in Mankhool, Dubai, with work expected to complete in 2017.

McGregor notes that the next item on the agenda for Trans Gulf in terms of adopting more efficient delivery and installation methods is prefabrication and modularisation.

“I’ve had extensive experience of this in the UK. It’s underutilised in this region, but it’s definitely the way forward,” he says.

“In my opinion, this doesn’t make MEP cheaper, it makes it more deliverable in the timeframes that we are being presented with, whilst maintaining the quality demanded and expected of us.”

Asked what he believes are realistic margins for MEP contractors in today’s Gulf markets, McGregor responds by saying that clients, main contractors and consultants need to begin to realise that driving down MEP prices is not cost-effective in the long run.

“I’m hoping that MEP contractors start to realise that ‘buying work’ is not sustainable, and I honestly believe that this is happening,” he says. “MEP is the heart and soul of a building; the difference between right and wrong, controlled or uncontrolled, in MEP terms, is immense.

“However, being at the bottom of the construction industry food chain, it’s normally the MEP budget that gets squeezed until fully compliant delivery is not achievable, corners are cut and quality suffers.”

McGregor says this is a scenario he will not allow to happen at Trans Gulf.

“Every project has a price that should not be compromised. We have a rule whereby we would rather walk away from a project than deliver what the client doesn’t want or expect,” he adds.

With regards to late payments, McGregor says this is unfortunately becoming the norm in the region and is having a huge detrimental effect on MEP contractors.

“Again, this for me is about being sensible and selecting the right people to work with. Those who understand that late payment to their supply chain will ultimately impact their own business and performance,” McGregor says. “I recently heard of one of our competitors question whether he was an MEP contractor or a finance provider, and I think this is a good question.”

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