After some forty years at the same address in Umbilo Road on the fringes of downtown Durban, GVK-Siya Zama’s KZN operation is moving from this location to a new 900m2 office in Westville.
Umbilo was named after the Umbilo River that flows through Pinetown and Queensburgh via the Umbilo canal and eventually into Natal Bay at Bayhead. The suburb’s name has its origin in the Zulu word, Mbilo, meaning ‘boiling’. The elegant yet faded buildings of the precinct suggest a former time of commerce and vibrance, which have sadly made way for neglect, dereliction, crime and unsafe passing. This is one of the main reasons for the move to the new premises.
Former long-serving managing director of the business in the region, Johan de la Querra, commends his successors on the move and recalls the company’s early days in the province when it established a foothold after buying the contracting division of G C Shave, a then well-known painting company, in 1969.
“We became a well-established restoration business, taking on notable projects such as Durban City Hall, Addington Hospital and the Durban Country Club. We were the only company who restored stonework, particularly the Pietermaritzburg ‘pink brick’,” De la Querra says. In the 1980s, the company branched out to more specialist building repairs and added tenant fitouts to its repertoire, in the process embedding its reputation as a specialist painting and restoration outfit.
The subsequent launch of GVK-Siya Zama in 1994 set the business on a different trajectory as bigger greenfield builds started to dominate its order book. Fast forward to 2022 and the group’s modern-day reputation as one of the biggest privately owned construction companies in the country.
Says Chairman Dumisani Madi, “These new premises support our growth strategy in the region, will provide a shot in the arm for the team, and will ensure that we are more accessible and better positioned to support and welcome our clients in the region. Our new address, centrally located along the M13 at 1 Langford Road, Westville, prioritises staff well-being and offers a modern environment close to amenities, which is also conducive to collaboration and growth.”
Managing Director in the region, Justin Meder, says the new office layout includes work hubs specifically designed to enhance the work experience of its many young construction employees by providing spatial access to senior role players that promote learning and mentoring.
On the back of several key projects currently under construction, this move further cements the group’s investment and faith in the province. “Our team’s commitment has seen this business grow despite the ravages of Covid and the recent floods,” says Meder. He remains positive about the outlook for the industry in the province and his business unit’s commitment to growing its business in the region.