Attaining Safe To Work (STOW) certification for Francis-Lau Construction Ltd in March 2014 was an expensive investment to allow it to tender for contracts in the energy sector, said Rhou Francis-Lau, 29, the company's policy and strategy manager.
"We wanted to enter the energy industry and it is a prerequisite to be STOW certified, mandated by the Energy Chamber," he said.
His uncle, Christopher Francis-Lau, 49, who is the managing director, and father Wayne Francis-Lau, 62, who is chairman, credited Rhou with doing all the STOW-related work over six months.
Two generations of this family were seated in the boardroom of the company at the e-TecK industrial park in Caroni last week Friday for an hour-long interview.
Up until two years ago, Royce Francis-Lau, brother of Christopher and Wayne, was the general manager at Francis-Lau Machining Technologies Ltd, now integrated into the construction company. He has since retired. Another brother, Andre Francis-Lau, handles export management in the region.
Francis-Lau Construction was started by Clifford Francis-Lau, Wayne and Christopher's father, in 1963. He passed away in 2005. Initially, the company was based at the Industrial Development Corporation industrial estate in Sea Lots, Port-of-Spain, specialising in wrought iron work, burglar proofing, gates, etc.
The company has since undergone major shifts in what it does.
The framed STOW certificate hanging on a wall of an office corridor at Francis-Lau Construction is a giant leap into a new sector.
"We've just done a project for Schlumberger, an expansion to their existing facilities in La Romaine," Christopher said. "We want to try and get work from bpTT and energy companies, especially in south Trinidad."
The Schlumberger job involved retrofitting a two-storey building, for which the original cost was $1.8 million, but with expanded works, rose to $2.5 million when the job was completed in April. The main contractor was Point Fortin-based Hook Mally Ali.
The company has also tendered for a bpTT offshore project, which is being facilitated by Massy Wood.
"We'll be supplying work, not working offshore," Wayne explained.
Wayne said Francis-Lau Construction would not have been asked to tender for the bpTT job were it not for STOW.
"We wanted to grow. Absolutely. That is the bottom line," Wayne said.
"We realised it has given us some prominence," Christopher added.
Christopher said quite a few companies are trying to become STOW certified, but it's costly. The cost of paying a consultant, which is optional, is $250,000. The process involved training in management systems, health and safety training, first aid training, obtaining welding certification and risk management. Rhou said development of the management systems dictated the roles and responsibilities of the company's staff, from management straight to workshop employees.