Taking a moment to enjoy the good stuff

Photo: The 2023 CCNZ Hirepool Construction Excellence Awards recognised top civil construction projects and maintenance initiatives from across the country (and the people and teams behind the work) and goes back to the first awards held in 1978.

By Alan Pollard, Chief Executive, Civil Contractors New Zealand
Businesses can be forgiven for becoming more and more internally focussed over the past few years.

Concerns can be all-consuming, including where the next job will come from, whether we will have the people to do the work, what impact will government regulatory changes have on the business, unfair contract terms, sudden changes to projects or programmes, inflationary pressures, and endless compliance.

Despite the government narrative, the current conditions within which businesses operate are not (in my personal view) due to the previous government voted out six years ago, nor due to Covid, nor due to global economic conditions.

Straight from the Donald Trump play book, if you say it often enough people will start to believe it. They are, in large part, due to poorly targeted, unproductive and inflationary government spending, poorly conceived and rushed legislative changes, and a fundamental lack of understanding of how modern businesses (particularly construction businesses) operate in New Zealand, and the real support they need from the Government to be successful.

But, despite what it may seem, this article is not about the political and economic landscape – there is an election on 14 October and people can express their views or hold politicians to account by voting on election day.

The point of this article is to say that despite the pressures our members – contractors or associates – face, we must find a way to be positive, and take the time to look outside the immediate challenges we face and celebrate what is so good about the industry (and have some fun along the way).

I know how hard our members work to achieve the remarkable civil construction works they construct and maintain every day. What better opportunity to de-stress and celebrate a job well done than at conference?

The annual CCNZ Civil Contractors Conference was held in Auckland from 30 August to 1 September (covered on pages 32-39). The conference is about so many things – education, debate, access to decision makers, networking, celebrating success, and having fun in an otherwise busy and turbulent business environment.

It kicked off with a chance for members to see NZ’s largest water project – the 14.7km Central Interceptor – in person. Thanks to the team at the Ghella Abergeldie Joint Venture for welcoming visitors and making so many senior staff available to guide us through the project.

The most popular sessions at the conference were those where presenters (often contractor members) spoke from the heart and laid themselves bare, for example, sharing their personal stories about how severe weather events earlier this year affected them, their businesses, and their teams.

Tenby Powell joined us live from his Kiwi K.A.R.E humanitarian efforts in the Ukraine and spoke of his experiences on the ground there and what lies ahead.

A small business session focussed on business growth, looking after people, finance and insurance, and software for SMEs, tackled some of the ‘meatier’ changes and reforms affecting or on the horizon for industry – including water reform, sustainability, and workforce development. Technical sessions included traffic management, legal contracts, and a new water design and construction code of practice.

The social events are always popular. This year it started with a welcome reception hosted by the CCNZ Auckland Branch and Boss Attachments, then the Brian Perry Civil ‘Around the World’ themed dinner – where guests dressed up to showcase their countries of origin, or that had significant meaning for them. It was a great opportunity to have some fun with friends and colleagues.

Celebrating success is a major theme of conference. The Z Energy Personal Improvement award, recognising an individual’s commitment to ongoing training and development, was won by Jacob Walmsley of Brian Perry Civil, who has completed over 30 training courses, as well as a Diploma in Civil Engineering as a straight A student – all while working full time. The Z Emerging Leader award, for people under the age of 30 who have innovated, impressed, and made a difference to the industry, their company, and their peers, was won by Ryan Thom of Utilities Infrastructure New Zealand, who at just 27 years of age is leading complex, multi-million-dollar projects.

The CCNZ Connexis Civil Industry Training Awards recognise employers that believe in providing opportunities for their staff to gain skills and knowledge through a nationally recognised qualification. The winning company with up to $10 million in turnover was Topline Contracting from Hawke’s Bay, a company leading the way in cultural inclusion, diversity, and community.

The winning company between $10m and $100m in turnover was Pipeline and Civil from Auckland, a company committed to investing in their staff and the wider industry to create a culture of loyalty and passion. And the winning company with over $100m turnover was HEB Construction from Auckland, whose philosophy recognises the whole person and not just the employee, encourages training, celebrates success, and supports their goal of growing capability.

The conference concluded with the Hirepool Construction Excellence Awards, a black-tie event showcasing the best of the industry projects and people. Here was a chance to celebrate the amazing work that our industry does and the amazing people that do the work.

Over 50 entries competed across six award categories, and all of those were excellent in their own right, making judging very difficult.

Category winners were: Isaac Construction (Matipo Street rail crossing renewal featured on page 50-52); Connell Contractors (Poutu intake and tunnel erosion repair work); Fulton Hogan (48 Day State Highway remediation project); Oxcon CLL (Shared path of land and sea – Te Ara Ki Uta Ki Tai ); HEB Construction (Napier Port Te Whiti Wharf 6); and Fulton Hogan (Hastings District Council rural road maintenance contract).

There was an amazing standard of entries this year, and the highly commended projects from Downer, Interflow and Brian Perry Civil (accepted by Jacob Walmsley) were also extremely impressive.

Past CCNZ President, Tim Ford, was made a Life Member, Auckland’s Marty McCardle received an Industry Service Award, and Dentons was named Major Associate of the year.

So, that’s three days of education, debate, networking, celebration, and fun in an otherwise turbulent world.

Sometimes we get so caught up in our busy daily lives that we forget to take time out to refresh, connect, and energise. The conference is the perfect time for this, and we are already looking toward next year’s event, which promises all of this and more.

Related posts

Parting words from Jeremy Sole- a final column

Contrafed PUblishing

Smoko antics

Contrafed PUblishing

John Deere K-Series wheel loaders

Contrafed PUblishing