Coming to London from his native Ireland as a 19-year-old to seek work as a ganger on building sites was a bold move for a young Patrick O’Keefe Senior. This determination has had far-reaching consequences for the London construction market and for the 500 + people who work for the business.
Setting up O’Keefe Construction in 1970 with few assets other than himself and a gang of men, Patrick couldn’t have envisaged the sophisticated, dynamic and innovative business that still bears his name.
When O’Keefe Construction (Greenwich) Limited was founded, the UK construction industry was still using traditional, manual methods that were labour intensive, expensive and time-consuming. Having extensively researched alternative methods abroad we discovered machinery that would revolutionise processes; discovering equipment specifically designed for tasks such as pile breaking, placing concrete in slabs, soil stabilisation, 3D ground modelling and most recently, the production of recycled hydraulically bound materials. The benefits this equipment could offer were numerous – projects were made far simpler, safer, more accurate, and cost-efficient.
Realising that the use of such technology would revolutionise working practices, we imported this machinery to the UK, not only becoming among the first companies to do so, but also changing the way that the industry as a whole would utilise heavy plant machinery.
In the 1990s, environmental awareness led us to design and develop a machine that would set the industry standard for stabilising and remediating soil. This environmentally-friendly system had the added benefits of improving quality standards, accuracy and reliability. With the later addition of an in-house soils testing laboratory, this pioneering approach has raised the bar for the industry.
Use of technology is one thing, however we also recognise that our business processes must be innovative in order to deliver the greatest benefits to our partners and clients. With a corporate ethos that encourages ownership of both the risk and rewards inherent in the scale of the projects that we are called upon to deliver, the honest and open dialogue that project teams develop with their clients is key to ensuring that focus is kept on the commercial benefits of the design and construction process.