The story of DIG IG



In light of the launch of the E2E International 100 list for 2024, we spoke to Russell Evans, Director of DIG IG, an international civil engineering and surface mining contracting business, to learn more about his story and experiences with international business expansion; delving into some of the challenges faced in this market, the strategies implemented, and some advice for aspiring entrepreneurs.

Can you tell us your story, why you founded the business and what led you to set up Dig Civil Engineering? 

“DIG is an International Civil Engineering and Surface Mining Contracting business founded in 2019. It was founded to continue the successful overseas operations that had been a part of a previous construction group that went into administration in 2019.”

What markets did you initially target, and how did your international expansion strategy evolve over time?

“The company initially targeted two mining customers with major contracts known from the team’s previous operations in West Africa since 2010. We still have these two major long-term customers and major projects and have now expanded our scope with these customers through repeat business. We are also currently bidding for a third, all in Sierra Leone.”

How has your business successfully expanded into international markets over the past few years?

“We have expanded with known customers in known territories and through existing relationships.”

What key strategies or partnerships have been instrumental in driving this international growth?

“Key partnerships with our two key customers, working with them to solve problems and add value to their operations. We also have partnerships with key equipment suppliers and our banks to help fund the equipment needed.”

Could you share some insights into the challenges faced and lessons learned during this expansion phase?

“Our biggest challenge has been the availability of finance for equipment that is operating in West Africa. We also worked throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, which gave us significant challenges with our expatriate workforce. We have also weathered the problems in shipping and cost escalation brought about by the global conflict.”

How has the spirit of entrepreneurship shaped your company’s culture and decision-making processes?

“We have a small and responsive Board (three Directors) and a flat management structure. We understand the areas that we work in and are able to assess real risk and make rapid decisions with calculated risk.”

Can you highlight any innovative approaches or initiatives that have contributed to your international success?

“We carry out all key tasks with our own team and our own equipment including the mining and civil engineering work. Ownership of equipment is crucial as availability in-country is poor and expensive. Maintenance of this equipment is also key – along with management of spares and consumables to support this. We therefore have strong teams in-country to manage this and in the UK to manage procurement and logistics.

“Our project management and supervisory teams are also fundamental to our success, and because we carry out all of the work ourselves, they have a full understanding of programme, cost, quality, health and safety and environmental issues which are all fundamental to carrying out work successfully in this type of environment.”

Looking ahead, what are your ambitions for further international expansion and growth?

“We hope to secure a further five-year mining contract this year which will help secure our future and allow expansion into other territories.”

Based on your experience, what advice would you offer to entrepreneurs aiming to expand globally?

“Understand where you intend to operate – the culture, people, politics. Understand the work and have highly competent and trusted teams that are able to operate remotely. Look carefully at finance options. Understand the real risks and be prepared to take calculated risks.”

What does it mean to your organisation to be included in the E2E International 100 list for 2024?

“To be included in the E2E International 100 is a tremendous recognition for all of the team’s work to get us to where we are now.”

To find out more about E2E, visit https://www.e2exchange.com/



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