CELEBRATING TEN YEARS OF HOME - READ THE LATEST

New Zealand’s construction sector continues to be bombarded with troubles from all angles. With our Auckland team going into their fifteenth week in Alert Level 3 or higher, the rest of our team are in awe of their resilience and commitment in the face of adversity.

Of course, whilst Auckland’s closed borders have compounded problems of supply shortage and material distribution out to the rest of the country, there are many more challenges facing those that work in the building industry. With our country borders closed for almost two years and an ageing workforce, we’re suffering an acute shortage in skilled labour. Material and freight costs are at an unprecedented high, and as countries deal with their own manufacturing challenges, the availability of supplies from abroad are at an unusual low.

In the last week, the government has announced that the Commerce Commission will be launching a market survey into residential building materials, amidst on-going questions of the building supplies sector not being a ‘fair playground’.

We’re seeing construction companies folding and building projects grinding to a halt. This couldn’t come at a worse time when thousands of people in Aotearoa are facing homelessness due to a lack of suitable housing.

We could be forgiven for feeling a hint of despair as we consider the landscape right now.

And yet, as we look closer and fix our view on what we can see in our part of the industry, we can see many reasons to be hopeful.

Fresh talent

Across our projects, our teams are boosted by talented apprentices learning a range of trades as they are supported by our experienced team members and members of our build partner teams. For instance, we're grateful that two of our carpentry apprentices have benefitted with invaluable mentoring from Richies Builders Limited and Clean Cut Construction.

Investing in the next generation of construction workers takes time and attention. This year alone, with our build partners, we are on target for supporting 28 apprentices into work. This will bring the total of apprentices trained since the beginning of our apprentice programme to a total of 100. As we share this responsibility with our build partners, we know that the industry will reap the rewards as New Zealand grows and strengthens its workforce.

Team Culture

The lack of supplies and materials is a reality that everyone is feeling. Sadly, no one has the genie in the bottle who can magic up what we need, when we need it. Communicating with suppliers, taking a proactive approach, looking for efficiencies and cutting out waste, have all helped us to keep moving forward on the developments we’re committed to. Building strong, long-term relationships with our suppliers and clients has meant we’ve been able to navigate through supply delays and shortages as a united team.

Working relationships built on trust, generosity and patience aren’t typical for our industry but this has been our experience in the last few months. We’re grateful to many of our partners, including: Placemakers, TIL, The Brickery, Atkin, Plumbed Up, Stryde Landscaping and Kāinga Ora for working with us to find solutions to the problems that could otherwise stop us all from achieving our goals.

Our supply partners are doing an incredible job, such as Sopers Macindoe, who identified materials that would need longer order times, proactively ordering them in and offering to store them until required. Going above and beyond when the pressure is on sets companies apart.

Not forgetting our why

It is tempting in these high pressure times, to "batten down the hatches" and focus your efforts on ensuring your own survival. Take care of your core business and reduce anything surplus to requirement. In actual fact, research shows that continuing to do good for others is good for us, it's a principle that can be applied as much in our work life as it can in our personal life.

In the last two months, our partners have not ceased to do good; with Placemakers Christchurch and AquaPro contributing to a MATES in Construction event, Diamond Scaffold, Wrightwire, Hagley Windows and Doors, Devon Construction and Complete Coatings generously supporting Breast Cancer Awareness month, SES giving to North Canterbury Big Brother/Big Sister and The Flooring Centre, Homeview and Wrightwire contributing to our Aviva (women's refuge) project in Rangiora.

May their commitment to support those in need give them a return of good on their businesses.

Innovative approaches

We’ve talked in previous articles about the importance of having a culture of innovation in order for your company to succeed. When you’re in a challenging time, the instinct might be to simply stick with what you know and play it safe. In fact, the opposite is true. Now is the time to try something new, because just maybe that change will unlock a solution to your current problem that the ‘usual way’ wouldn’t have found. It could be as simple as using an alternative material or perhaps a change in your processes will bring the breakthrough. Ask your team, your partners and your customers to think outside of the box, take measured risks and share responsibility for the results.

Our development team has been grateful to Prime Kitchens who have suggested alternative products to deliver new homes to our customers with minimum delays.

A key client has taken an innovative approach to the payment schedule, providing us with cashflow for ordering materials early to avoid project delays. Their flexibility means we can push forward in this unprecedented environment.

Individually we can’t defeat the giant problems, but together we break them down bit by bit and get the results we need.

Connect

There is no denying that our industry is in crisis and we face the pressure of it on a daily basis. We’re choosing to stay focussed on the goal; to build homes and end homelessness. And we’re choosing to stick to our values every day, working with our partners and for our customers, as a team. For us, it’s the only way we can succeed.

If you are struggling at the moment and would like to talk to an industry peer, we’d love to connect with you. If we can, we’ll help. Please get in touch.