Comment Contractor

Parting words from Jeremy Sole- a final column

…much of what the organisation does is not obvious to outside observers and you can only get the value and wider knowledge by participating.

WELCOME TO MY 61ST and final column for Contractor magazine. I‘m sure you can appreciate that sitting down every four or five weeks for five and a half years to write a regular column and finding something interesting and useful to write can be quite a challenge.

From time to time one wonders if anyone reads it anyway and then something happens which demonstrates that people do actually read it.

Sometimes this has come from passing comments or a phone call to discuss further or to acknowledge the column. And sometimes it’s rather more dramatic such as when I wrote a strong piece against the ‘unconditional on demand bank bonds’ being proposed by the Auckland Regional Contracts Group (ARCG) for adoption by the new Auckland Council.

This column generated a couple of fast meetings and phone calls from a senior executive working on the amalgamation who told me ARCG had grossly exceeded its mandate and had been summarily dissolved and the proposed requirements were not going to happen.

While this possibly caused some delay in the unification of standards and specifications in the new Auckland Council, it was also a narrow escape for the SME contracting industry that simply could not have afforded to put up the required bonds – much less meet the criteria of submitting the bonds with the tender documentation, potentially for multiple tenders over the same period, without destroying their balance sheets.

Other columns have covered earthquakes, procurement issues, health and safety, voidable transactions and liquidators and of course the NZTA maintenance and operations review and Network Outcomes Contracts (NOCs).

All of these things are but a fraction of the work that the National Office team has been engaged in over the past years and on reflection we have been successful in almost every campaign or advocacy position we have taken. This, in my view at least, means the organisation is in a much stronger position than it was when my team set about their work and it is very satisfying to leave while things are in good shape.

I’ve really enjoyed working with Lyn Kuchenbecker, Tricia Logan, Malcolm Abernethy, James Corlett and Ollie Turner and more latterly with Alan Stevens. These are passionate and dedicated people doing very good work on behalf of the membership and the sector and I will miss working with them – but they will do just fine without me and I am sure they are all waiting with bated breath to see who comes along to sit in the corner office at Margan House next and what the next industry and organisational challenges will be in 2015.

The big one on the horizon will be the preparation of support and guidance material to assist members in preparing for the new Health and Safety legislation which is due to go live on April 1, 2015.

In the meantime, WorkSafe has some very good preliminary information on their website. As I look back on my tenure here, I think what I am most pleased with would be the opportunity to make a difference through the Minister’s Road Maintenance Task Force and the Minister’s Local Government Infrastructure Advisory Group, the establishment of the Construction Safety Council and the successful collaboration (albeit with mutual occasional grumpiness) with NZTA over the NOCs.

I think that straightening out National Office’s financial systems has been a satisfying achievement as has the time I have spent working with Kevin and his team at Contrafed Publishing. I am especially pleased to have been part of the Contrafed team that worked with Local Government NZ to re-establish the new LG Magazine that goes out to local authorities – contractors and suppliers should be subscribing to this one to better understand what is happening at local government.

As a final note, other than to say a big thank you to all the members who have contributed to and supported me in my work, is that members of Civil Contractors NZ need to participate in the day to day operations of your branch and participate in conference if you want to get real value out of your membership. You cannot run a successful and sustainable business and grow it if you are operating in a silo away from your industry body.

I mentioned in my column last month that much of what the organisation does is not obvious to outside observers and you can only get the value and wider knowledge by participating.

I recall a quote that says “once you see the band wagon – it’s already too late to get on it”. The message is that by participating in your industry organisation, you can get a sense of what might happen in your industry before it takes form – and then you can position yourself and benefit from changes rather than getting run over by them.

jeremy-soleJEREMY SOLE
CEO, CIVIL CONTRACTORS NEW ZEALAND

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