1950s - 1970
S.R. Nicholas Ltd was formed in 1958 as a building contracting company, a partnership between Mr. S.R. Nicholas, a South African Greek, and Mr. U. Bizzaro, an Italian. The former a building contractor, the latter a designer and engineer, they met in what was then the Protectorate of Nyasaland. The newly arrived Bizzaro was inspired by the vast possibilities that lay dormant in the country. 1964 brought independence, and the newly emergent Malawi needed buildings.
When Nicholas left for South Africa, Umberto Bizzaro took over the company.
Malawi saw its first concrete structure when S.R. Nicholas built the Post Office building in Blantyre. As a contractor to the Government of Malawi, the company won its first big contract with the Malawi Housing Corporation, which entailed the construction of low cost housing for the emergent middle classes.
Seeing the lack of skilled workmen, many were brought in from Europe, mainly Portuguese and Italians, notably from Friuli - famed for its builders. These craftsmen set certain standards of workmanship, and the years have seen them pass on their skills to those working with them. Even today, the company's' work is coloured by these aesthetics and traditions. S.R. Nicholas is a company which invests heavily in its workforce; aiming to combine skills, training and motivation. During the early years, Malawians had o be trained from scratch. Today, most Site engineers and quantity surveyors employed by the company are Malawians: the philosophy of the company remaining unchanged.
Over the years, S.R. Nicholas has built houses, schools and hospitals all over Malawi, from Nsanje in the southern tip to Chitipa in the far north. The logistics of building in such remote areas is one of the biggest challenges the company has had to overcome. Notably , the secondary school on Likoma Island, 40 km into Lake Malawi, where 4.5 million bricks were made on site; with the exception of sand and water, all other construction materials had to be imported from the mainland.
1970 - Late 1980s
In the mid-1970s, Malawi's President, Dr. Banda. chose S.R. Nicholas to build the new State House in Lilongwe - a visionary project for Malawi, completed in 1992. This represented a milestone in S.R. Nicholas' history, and subsequently saw it develop in many sectors. Also strengthened by this growth was its Joinery Section, and its' sister company Cilcon, a civil engineering Company. S.R. Nicholas was now in a position to offer its clients a much extended service.
The development and evolution of the company continues; in recent years S.R. Nicholas has seen the growth of a Steel section, fabricating steel windows and door frames. They are furthermore now capable of handling structural steel contracts: the Thyolo Hospital site involved 700 tonnes of structural steel.
In the late eighties Umberto's sons, both Civil Engineers trained in Italy, entered the Company. Subsequently, S.R. Nicholas' area of work has expanded into Zambia and Mozambique, whilst continuing its Malawi operations.