L&A Construction Limited is a family run business managed by its founder, Sir Luciano Cragnolini and his sons who have used the raw materials of determination, quality and principles to carve the artefact of success within the construction industry across Papua New Guinea
Writer: Phoebe Calver
Project Manager: Tom Cullum
At L&A Construction Limited profitability is not the primary objective for the family run business, instead focusing on ensuring the delivery of high quality projects while building trusted relationships with clients.
Chairman of the Company, Sir Luciano Cragnolini arrived in Papua New Guinea (PNG) – having left his home country of Italy – on December 9, 1967. His exceptional understanding of the PNG industry began with installing pre-cast concrete beams for the construction of the administration building; during stage one of the University of PNG (‘UPNG’)’s construct in Waigani.
Only five years later – in joint partnership with his late brother, Arrigo Cragnolini – he formed L&A Bricklayers Pty Ltd, the name which preceded the current L&A Construction Limited.
“In our earlier years, L&A adopted a sub-contractor role which specialised in block work, tiling and specialist finishes including Italian marble and granite,” explains Adriano Cragnolini, General Manager of L&A. “Later this product offering expanded to include a wide range of internal divisions, including a steel fabrication factory, plastering, painting, joinery, plumbing, electrical, plant hire and block manufacturing plant.”
In expanding its core offerings in such a manner, L&A was able to promote itself as a company of greater diversity and more robust capabilities able to assume a main building contractor role. After 45 years of growth within the industry, L&A is now considered to be one of the pioneers in the advancement of the construction industry in Papua New Guinea.
Since its humble beginnings in 1972, as a brand L&A has achieved incredible levels of success. This is predominantly due to a determined approach on the part of the entire team to ensure the delivery of high quality services on all of its projects.
L&A’s time in the industry has not always been smooth sailing, however, particularly between 2011 and 2015 when a number of foreign building contractors were trying to get a piece of the action in PNG’s construction industry.
“Whether it was due to these new entrants having a lower cost structure or desperation in trying to break into the market, we found ourselves being left at the altar on a lot of these tenders,” Cragnolini describes. “During this challenging period, we took it as an opportunity to review our internal structure and operating costs, which enabled us to streamline our vehicle for the next wave of development.”
Throughout this period of change, L&A successfully managed to maintain its reputation for high quality service delivery.
“Later on in 2015, we experienced what we like to call a ‘flight to quality’,” continues Cragnolini. “A large number of clients were approaching L&A after being unhappy with their previous builders’ work, meaning we were able to take a step into both existing projects and participate in new projects.
“Since that point, a large number of the new entrants to our market back in 2011 have withered, leaving us in the enviable position of being the builder of choice by many architects and developers in PNG.”
By obtaining such a valued reputation, the Group has been able to expand into new markets, providing an abundance of new opportunities while excelling in PNG.
“In recent years we have spent a lot of time establishing and developing partnerships with private companies and governmental organisations,” affirms Cragnolini. “This has enabled L&A to become part of the planning and development committee for large-scale developments across PNG, enabling us to sit in the front row of future tender opportunities.”
Opportunities to grow
For L&A, observing strict disciplinary regimes in carrying out work has ensured that all members within the Company are working to industry standards. Alongside that, each member of staff is provided with a clear understanding of the programme deliverables required to achieve the highest possible workmanship.
“In order to achieve the best, we thoroughly believe in supporting our employees in work as well as in achieving their personal and financial goals,” continues Cragnolini. “We back them in their endeavours and give them opportunities to grow. Everyone has challenges and it seems employees in PNG have their fair share.”
The Company has an established code of conduct that everyone adheres to, helping to create a structured approach to delivering total solutions for our clients.
Cragnolini adds: “When you look behind each of our projects, you will notice that there is a constant aim to achieve a quality finish, while also finding efficient and effective ways to achieve the desired outcome that is both cost-effective and beneficial to our clients.”
It is the consistent success of the Company in this department during the past 45 years that has led to the quality of its professional team. A combination of its training, flexibility and more than anything, its ability to work as a team has provided L&A with an enviable reputation within the industry.
Showcasing diverse skill
During its 45-year span in the industry, L&A has worked on an abundance of projects in PNG and further afield.
“We have worked on a full span of projects across the industry, a great example being Venezia Estates,” explains Cragnolini. “The staged master plan development comprised three residential towers, kitchens, a gym, karaoke building and a centralised services plant, with a further eight residential tower developments on this project in the pipeline.”
Showcasing its diverse skill-set in the industry, the Company has also worked on a church at the beach in Porebada, a primary school on Fisherman Island and a diesel fired generator plant at Kanudi.
“Our skill-set and resources came to the fore when we were engaged by Oil Search Limitedto undertake the refurbishment of the iconic ‘Pineapple’ building – now known as Sir Manusupe Haus – which accommodates the Department of Prime Minister and NEC,” Cragnolini continues: “As acknowledged by most consultants, this was one of the most complicated building and refurbishment projects to have been undertaken in PNG.
“Works included the construction of a sheer wall, two new concrete staircases on either side of the building, a new mass-slab underpinning installed to the existing building footprint, addition of an extra top-floor, and the fit-out of 13 floors of quality commercial office accommodation.”
Currently the Company is expanding its portfolio of projects, branching into new sectors that will enable new directions for L&A in the future.
“Our first large project outside of Port Moresby is the current construction of a new cash handling facility for the Bank of Papua New Guinea in Lae,” states Cragnolini. “Other current projects include a new lecture theatre and library at the UPNG Waigani campus for Cardno TEU, the new school of business at UPNG Waigani for the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and a 14-level residential tower for Brian Bell in Port Moresby.”
The Company is showing no signs of slowing down as it moves forward, with future projects in the pipeline including the Angau Hospital redevelopment, upgrading of existing hotels around the country, a planned new shopping centre, and several residential and commercial towers in Port Moresby.
“Over the years, we have gained a lot of respect from clients and suppliers alike in the PNG construction industry,” concludes Cragnolini. “We will continue to strive to provide high quality outcomes for our clients, while supporting local suppliers and employees, with the goal of being regarded as the builder of choice by our clients.”