Q&A with James O’Grady, Sales and Business Development Manager, Mainmark
How are you delivering innovative ground engineering in your role with Mainmark?
In the infrastructure markets, I am excited about the possibilities of Mainmark’s solutions.
Our solutions are truly unique. They challenge conventional ground engineering methods but are proven, having been successful at some of Australia’s most iconic construction, public infrastructure and mining sites. I am committed to communicating the possibilities and to challenging customers to re-think the way ground engineering problems are solved.
In the residential space, I am very focused on making sure customers have a clear understanding of the work Mainmark will undertake on their property. Their home is often their most valuable asset and addressing structural foundation problems can be an emotional experience, so it’s important that they understand how our solutions work and what the process will be. Engineers can sometimes go into too much technical detail when advising homeowners and take a matter-of-fact approach to the problem. Being relatable is important – the average homeowner may not understand the engineering jargon so we must be able to clearly communicate the benefits of our solutions and the likely outcomes they can expect.
What is the most common ground engineering mistake you see in the residential sector?
Most of our residential customers leave structural damage, or the problems that cause it, untreated for too long. Early action and prevention is really important for helping to reduce the cost of foundation repair and limit the degree of damage.
Broken pipes are a common culprit. They allow water to leak into the ground which can affect the soil on which the house sits, causing it to subside and foundations to sink. This in turn results in cracks in walls and compromises the structural integrity of the home. It is far easier and more cost effective to repair broken pipes than re-level a home, but many shy away from this initial investment, only to incur much bigger expenses down the track.
What is the biggest ground engineering challenge facing the commercial sector?
In the commercial sector, the biggest challenge is balancing risk and reward. Innovative new ground engineering techniques and products can deliver substantial cost and time savings, however, there can be a reluctance to use these technologies because they are unknown. In these cases, project managers may rely on the traditional, more conservative methods they have experience with, but these can also be more expensive and time consuming.
What’s the most interesting or innovative project you’ve worked on during your time with Mainmark?
We recently decommissioned a gas pipe in Acland Street in St Kilda, Melbourne, using Mainmark’s unique structural, yet lightweight, fill material, Terefil. The pipe was 390 metres long, making it a significant undertaking. The original project timeline allowed 11 days for decomissioning works to be completed using traditional cementitious fill materials and methods. However, the Mainmark team was able to complete the works in less than three days, taking just one day to complete the pipe fill. It was extremely rewarding to see the project come together on site. There is something about seeing Terefil emerge from the end of a long pipe and knowing that the project objective has been achieved well-ahead of plan.
What has been the highlight of your time at Mainmark?
Watching the company expand its expertise in multi-component pumping products and introduce a suite of new solutions. This has seen Mainmark strengthen its presence in the residential space and successfully consolidate their position in new markets in the construction and mining sectors.
This is not an easy feat and I believe the company’s strong vision and culture is at the heart of its success. Our team is an example of innovative thinking at work – we tackle challenging problems with a fresh perspective and unique and proven technologies and solutions.
Our work in upgrading a hazardous weir in Dubbo, New South Wales, is an example of this. On arriving at site, it was quickly established that the original plan to fill the weir would need to be revised. The direction of the water flow was working against us. Thinking on our feet, the team developed a new method, conducted an on-site safety and risk assessment, and consulted with the project’s stakeholders for approval. Despite the setbacks and change in plan, we successfully completed the job in only three days, again using our advanced Terefil solution, while achieving the important environmental objectives laid out by the local council.
James O’Grady is the Sales and Business Development Manager at Mainmark. He is a civil engineer with 25 years’ experience in structural engineering, construction materials and ground treatment.