Guy Gaddum knows the value of hard graft – growing up near Gisborne, his quarrier dad would wake his sons at 4am to head off to work – and that's what's it's taken to turn Quality Roading and Services into a high-functioning, profitable company.
And he should know: a board member since 2007, Guy took over as chairman in late 2016, when QRS faced a number of challenges.
With his own business in civil construction, he was familiar with the challenges of working in a high-risk, low-margin business, and with the steps that had to be taken to address them.
Even so, he says the restructure QRS went through from 2017 was still tough, but had to be done for the sake of everyone involved.
“Possibly the main thing I have learned both through my own business, and through working with QRS, is that the most important ingredient is the human factor.
“If you have good people around you and a good culture, then you are going to get good outcomes, and we're pleased that that's what has happened here.”
As QRS is wholly owned by Wairoa District Council, it has a responsibility to offer efficiency and value for money, and winning contracts from outside council's scope has had an impact, Guy Gaddum says.
Primarily that meant doubling-down on the core business of servicing nearly 600 kilometres of unsealed roads in the region, but it also meant tendering for – and winning – contracts from other stakeholders.
“If you do what you have always done you are always going to get the same result, and we needed to do better,” he says. “That's why it was important for us to successfully compete outside that sphere.”
As a board the directors and chair are always mindful that, though QRS requires the financial resources to function properly, “at the end of the day this is other people's money we are dealing with, it belongs to the ratepayers of Wairoa”.
“Our responsibility is to first protect the business, then to grow strengthen it, so any rewards can be used for their benefit.”
Guy Gaddum says QRS's recent successes – securing $29 million in new contracts, $18m of which is for work scheduled in 2019 – are worth celebrating, but the company's place in the community is just as important as the state of its books.
“That is largely why this work is so engaging . . . I enjoy working with people and, here, there is an opportunity to make a difference,” he says.
“It is all about people, and about those people having shared goals in working towards a common outcome.
“As chair, I expect to see a continuation of the great work that is being achieved at the moment, with a steady focus on our people, on training, and on attracting quality staff from both within and outside the district.”
As at the end of June, 2019, the board was made up of three members but Guy Gaddum hoped to see one or two more at the table.
“What that would give us is coverage in terms of the depth and breadth of experience,” he says. “And it would allow us to make meaningful decisions around succession planning to ensure the business's long-term security is assured.”
2 September 2019
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