What’s your background?
I grew up on a farm in the Central Hawkes Bay region and after leaving high school took up an apprenticeship as a diesel mechanic in the New Zealand Army based near Palmerston North. I served in the Army for just over 7 years and then moved to the UK based in London, where I lived for 3 years while travelling throughout Europe. During this time I worked for Cummins Engine Company and Metronet reconditioning train motors for London’s underground railway.
During this time in the UK I met Michelle (now my wife) and in 2008 we decided it was time to move home again and we settled Wellington and I took a role working for Load-Lift Equipment, an agent for Kobelco and Nissan Forklifts, as a mechanic. I was fortunate to be made branch manager within about a year of joining Load-Lift although, being a small team, I was still heavily involved in the tools. I managed to build up the branch team and performance over the next 12 months or so, then a promotion opportunity came up at Load-Lifts head office so I moved up to Auckland to manage their service operations while still looking after the Wellington branch remotely.
In 2012 the Wellington business was sold to Access Solutions and 12 months following that they acquired the rest of the Load-Lift business and I became part of the new operation as operations manager of the new Forklift Solutions side of the business looking after 15 to 20 people.
Today the business I joined employs over 65 staff nationally and has over 1000 machinery hire assets across New Zealand. Access and Forklift Solutions is a family owned business and I enjoy the nimble nature that allows us to move and adapt quickly to support our customer’s projects. It allows us to mix it with the big boys without losing the focus and flexibility required by the smaller businesses we support.
What is an average day like for you?
There is no average day for me. I am usually up at 5:30 and in the office by 7. Each day I check in with our area managers across New Zealand. We work on operational issues, strategy, and sales relationships for both new and existing customers. Owner, Michael Biddick and I work closely on the strategic direction of the business and between us we closely monitor our people to make sure everyone is doing well and getting the support and direction they need. The one to one contact with our people is highly valuable to me just to make sure we are all on the same page and looking after each other and the interests of the business.
Looking after people and high performing teams is something I enjoy a great deal and this has probably evolved from my younger days playing a lot of rugby and the team-based disciplines of a military career. After a full day working on a range of tasks, I try to be out of the office by 6pm and home to my family.
What gives you the most satisfaction?
Winning new customer relationships and/or contracts through innovative ideas are key to satisfaction, but also seeing the implementation & delivery of those new contracts through the wider team working well together to get the right outcome, on-time and on budget. The ability to set a positive direction, achieving operational excellence and driving a great culture to be the best in our industry.
I get bored easily if I am not growing my own education, abilities and skills. These days I gain most of my learnings from my role at Access Solutions but I also have a tertiary level business degree that I need to get round to finishing one day too!
If I was to do more study, then Leadership courses are an area I would like to explore.
I am on the board of the EWPA and as a business, we hold board memberships on HIANZ, EWPA and NZFIA. I like the fact that we can come together under these associations as industry peers rather than just competitors and share great ideas, challenges and friendships for the betterment of the wider industry. On the EWPA board, I am heavily focused on improving the maintenance standards and certifications to lift safety practices across the industry, raising the bar higher for the future.
On a personal note
I’m married to Michelle and we have 3 young daughters together. When I’m not working, I like to get outdoors doing DIY or head for the beach with the family. I also enjoy hunting, fishing, surfing and golf whenever I get the chance. We live in a fairly quiet part of Auckland and we enjoy our time doing things together as a family and spending time with friends.
What makes the industry special?
Hire as an industry is progressive and adapts quickly to market needs, which makes it exciting and forever changing. It is a solution-focused game and that’s what I find enjoyable and satisfying. There is also a lot of employment opportunity in the hire industry, from entry-level people school levers, right through to those coming in with a degree or extensive working experience. There is something for everyone.