PDI Column - November 2016
The great philosopher known as Vanilla Ice told us in 1990 in his worldwide smash hit single to ‘collaborate and listen.’
That might be the one and only time that I quote a rapper in my column but, when it comes to our industry, the ‘Ice Ice Baby’ artist was on to something!
Working together, listening to one another and finding solutions for our industry in collaboration has to be the future for construction and all of its specialisms.
We can’t pretend it’s easy. It’s a competitive world out there and we are all fighting for our piece of the action when it comes to winning new contracts and keeping clients happy.
But if we want to improve, if we want to build for the future and drive efficiency and advances in technology, it has to be done collaboratively – not in isolation.
I liken it to D-Drill’s commitment to bringing through apprentices. It’s something we have done for many years and I, like my father before me, am a big believer in growing our own and supporting the next generation of talent.
I’ve often been told that I am wasting my time – that others will come and take my staff away after we have trained them and, therefore, all that time and effort that we have put in is merely making it easier for another company.
But if everyone takes that attitude, the talent pool will dry up and the industry will die. So while we are all in competition, we have to look at the bigger picture and at the same time as driving our own companies forward, drive the industry forward too.
In the UK, the whole of the construction industry has, essentially, joined forces. Build UK has broken new ground (please pardon the pun) in bringing together main contractors and the leading trade associations to work collaboratively and speak with one voice.
That means over 11,500 specialist contractors all working together with the ‘big boys’ with the sole aim of bringing about improvements that will benefit all of us by making the supply chain a partnership.
Rather than having disparate groups all asking for the same thing (or worse, different things) we can speak with one voice and tell the Government what we need to facilitate the growth of our sector.
New clients are joining all the time because they can see that this is an honest, grown up conversation and a genuine approach to bring about better returns across the supply chain.
The association itself - just like those we belong to around the world – isn’t the answer on its own because it needs company buy-in and that comes when everyone can see that this isn’t a pie-in-the-sky pipe dream but a very real way of delivering improvements to the bottom line.
When I speak to other people in the construction industry in the UK, we feel like we are making good progress but we realise that this will never be an issue that is solved – it will always need more work.
And, in writing this column, I am delighted to say that what is happening in my homeland is not isolated – the industry around the world is getting its act together when it comes to collaboration.
In Sweden, the demolition and decontamination association has merged with the sawing and drilling association and, in France too, an association brings together all of these disciplines too.
They do great work together and even have separate chapters for each trade. By recognising that they are all different but also by pulling them together, it has brought about very interesting events and agreements and has brought additional value to everyone involved.
In Spain, the three trades of decontamination, demolition and drilling and sawing work together and, despite the economic climate of recent years, they support each other well.
In Finland and Germany too, collaboration is happening and it is working.
As I said at the top, there has to be a sense of realism – our trades are all different and all of the companies within those trades have their own nuances. There will always be competition and I don’t think we can ever get to a point where we can say we 100 per cent collaborate.
But the reality is that working together makes us stronger and what we have in common far outweighs our differences and we should remember that as we look to move the whole industry onto the next level.
And if you’ve got a problem, yo we’ll solve it.
Okay, that last line is Vanilla Ice again – but you know exactly what I mean!