Hall Contracting shines as innovative Sunshine Coast business

Hall Contracting was founded on the Sunshine Coast in 1946, by Les Hall.  Starting life as a sand and gravel contractor, Hall has grown over the past 70 years into Australia’s largest dredging contractor, and a major civil contractor. With offices at Sunshine Coast, Brisbane, Malaysia and Fiji, Hall carries out civil, marine and dredging work across Australia and the Asia/Pacific Region. Their clients include governments and international bodies like the United Nations, World Bank and ADB, major resource companies, large listed and private property developers, plus ports and airports throughout the region. The business now employs over 200 people and his headed up by Les’ sons Peter and Brian, and grandson Cameron.

How have you embraced and evolved with digital technologies to improve your business practices?

We have a history of being a first mover with technology in our industry.  In the late 1990’s we were one of the first civil contractors to introduce GPS control on our earthmoving machines.  This allows the operator to accurately and efficiently work without relying on external survey or survey pegs.

In recent years, we have introduced a fleet monitoring system developed by a “start-up” owned by Jim Lee right here on the Coast.  “The Fleet Office” allows us to accurately track every piece of plant and equipment we own, in real time, and get instant feedback on utilisation, speeds, excess idle time amongst other things. The system involves placing a 4G enabled black box in each machine which uploads its data in real time.  The decrease in “idling time” has already paid for the system, with far less hours being put onto machines unnecessarily.

Another digital improvement we made was to put our complete external compliance (OHS, Enviro, Safety) on the cloud to a system called MANGO.  This was done about 5 years ago and has been remarkably good. It takes the guesswork and relying on one person out of the equation for business critical activities (such as knowing when a subcontractor’s insurance policy is about to expire).

Our most recent digital enhancement has been to go to electronic timesheets and invoice processing.  Workers now use their smartphone to enter their hours, job cost code and other information daily. This information then goes automatically to their supervisor for approval then automatically generates payroll.  Like wise our invoice processing is now automatic.  As invoices come in, they are scanned and automatically populate the required fields of the accounting and cost software.

Both of these innovations drew early criticism and some were reluctant to change, but it has shown its worth now as we have more than doubled our revenue without adding additional staff overheads.

And lastly, we have introduced OfficeBox, which is a cloud-based software provider for all of our business needs.  Officebox is also a Sunshine Coast start-up which offers flexible cloud-based solutions for SME’s.

How has embracing these technologies affected your growth?

We have been able to grow and scale up without a commensurate increase in staff numbers. It has allowed us to maintain effective central control over all critical functions of the business.

How are you actively involved in supporting the economic development of the Sunshine Coast and the Sunshine Coast community?

We actively support a $5000 per year scholarship at the local University for engineering students, and employ many young people each year (apprentices, school based trainees, and university graduates).  We are involved in and support local charities.

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