Construction & Development: Building Cayman from the ground up

Hadsphaltic has been a household name in the Cayman Islands for an impressive 43 years, the construction company having played a major role in the development of these islands into the successful jurisdiction that it is today. Business Editor, Lindsey Turnbull speaks with Bob McDaniel, the company’s new Director and General Manager, to get some perspective on the history of the company and gets a snapshot of where Hadsphaltic is heading today, amid the global recession.

Bob McDaniel joined Hadsphaltic six months ago and brings with him a wealth of knowledge and experience in the construction industry. Having grown up in the business, Bob, a native of Arkansas in the States, has travelled the Caribbean for the past 15 years, working on a variety of projects, such as the Radisson Aruba Caribbean Resort in Aruba; EL Conquistador Resort & Casino, and Palmas Del Mar Resort, both in Puerto Rico; Oyster Bay Beach Resort in St Martin; and the Veranda Resort in the Turks & Caicos Islands, to name just a few.

Give us some history to the firm

Hadsphaltic International Limited was established as a construction company in the Cayman Islands on September 8, 1966. Being one of the longest serving construction companies in the Cayman Islands, HIL has been a leader in construction and engineering on the island for more than 43 years. HIL is Part of the Oxford Ventures Group of Companies and is a sister company to Johnston International Ltd., which has its head offices in Providentiales, Turks & Cacios Islands.

Since its founding in 1966, the first major contract for HIL was the airport runway at Owens Roberts International Airport.

Over the years, Hadsphaltic established a reputation for undertaking major projects; many of them have become Cayman’s signature buildings

Hadsphaltic has been a major force within the construction industry in the Cayman Islands, having completed large projects for both the Cayman Islands government and the private sector, from large scale commercial projects to private residential homes. Hadspahaltic has developed a reputation for fast tracking projects and delivering on time and on budget. As previously stated, our very first project, back in 1966, was to build the runway for the Owen Roberts International Airport. Aside from some minor repair work over the years the runway remains just as strong and durable today as it was when we first laid the tarmac.

The company has also completed a variety of high profile projects, such as the Scotia Bank Building, the FNCB building, the Westwind building, and Cayman National Bank all in downtown George Town. In addition, HIL built the Hyatt Hotel, the Marriott Beach Grand Cayman, the Westin Casuarina Resort & Spa, The Marriott Courtyard, The Caribbean Club, all located on Seven Mile Beach, just a sample of the iconic Cayman buildings built by the firm.

Government projects have included the Prospect Primary School, the Port Authority headquarters building and CI Customs building.

We have also been closely involved with the Camana Bay development, having completed the structural elements of blocks 1, 2, 3, 4 & 11 and the bridge and Camana Island docks.

Can you name some recent projects?
We have just completed Park Place on West Bay Road, a mixed use facility comprising 46,000 sq. ft of 32 residential apartments, over 10,000 sq. ft. of retail space and covered parking, all built to hurricane standards.

We are about to celebrate our structural “topping out” of Seabreeze condominiums on Seven Mile Beach. This is a high end luxury residential project with only nine units of over 3,000 sq. ft. of living space each, including amenities of beach side pool and spa, underground parking, entry fountain, lift and fitness centre. The project has a scheduled completion programme in the autumn of 2009.

In addition, we are also working closely with CUC, Cayman’s electricity provider, who are a long-term client with whom they have worked on a number of different projects over the years.
At the moment we are assisting with the expansion of the engine room block to accommodate a new 16 megawatt generator, capable of generating 152 mega Watts of additional power for the island. This is a sophisticated project which needs an extremely high level of expertise. Ensuring that CUC continues to operate during the construction of the project is a major test for us and requires an extreme amount of co-ordination and pre-planning and we draw on our in-house pool of expertise for this purpose.

How has the worldwide economic recession impacted your business?
The recession has caused a dramatic slowdown in new projects for the construction industry in the Cayman Islands, but this is nothing different from what the US is experiencing right now; Cayman is just playing catch up to the US with the impact on Cayman’s construction industry running about six to eight months behind that in the States. The good news is that the recession has given us the perfect opportunity to reassess our business model and, as such, we have some really exciting plans in the pipeline for expanding to new markets and lines of business.

Can you expand on these?
Hadsphaltic has carved out a niche for itself for large scale commercial projects over the years, yet we might perhaps not be so well-known for our high-end luxury private homes we have built. Our most recently completed residential project was the magnificent Beck home on South Sound and we have just been selected to build another high end residence which will be around 7000 sq ft in Vista del Mar. There is still a solid market for this type of construction in Cayman and we are aggressively pursuing our expansion in the residential market sector.

In addition HIL is expanding our Small Works Division in the coming months, providing a much-needed service to resorts, hotels, commercial offices, condominiums and retail facilities for jobs that are too large for their maintenance crews to undertake, anything from door and window replacements, renovations, additions, to roof repairs and leaking gutters.

Hadsphaltic was a cornerstone in the redevelopment of Grand Cayman after Hurricane Ivan hit the island in September 2004, helping the island rebuild after the devastation caused by that Cat 4/5 hurricane. We are able to assist our clients with their pre-hurricane preparedness, providing a risk analysis and then installing hurricane protection systems. We can also assist with any post-hurricane construction work, such as debris removal, damage and safety assessments, insurance claim cost estimate assistance and repairs and renovations emanating out of any storm damage.

HIL is also pre-qualified to bid on the expansion of the Owen Roberts International Airport project, which is anticipated that bids will be accepted for this work around September of this year.

What is the ethos of the company under your leadership?
Hadsphaltic has always been committed to the training and furtherance of Caymanians within the organisation and that will continue and grow under my tenure. We have a strong track record of sponsoring students in furthering their higher education and we currently have three Caymanian individuals working for us, having completed their university studies and working in their chosen professions.

HIL is currently in the process of interviewing and selecting a student for our 2009 scholarship programme and are considering three bright young Caymanians for this award.
As we move forward we anticipate working closely with the local high schools, UCCI and the Cayman Contractors Association to further promote the industry to young people in Cayman. I am a strong believer in education and training for our staff and it is my intention to ensure that Caymanians are given the opportunity to be trained and educated so that they can make the most of the opportunities available to them at here at Hadsphaltic.

HIL has recently participated with John Gray High School and has had two high school student interns in the work experience programme, both of whom expressed an interest in becoming architects.

We believe it is important for young people to realise that solid and rewarding careers can be carved out of the construction industry, if they are prepared to work hard and study for the appropriate qualifications. We think that exposing young people to the business at this young age may spark a new enthusiasm, which can only be of benefit to the industry as a whole and the HIL contribution to the Cayman community.