More rambling thoughts and queries from the MD of Samka Architectural Solutions Limited.
Friday last week was Go-Karting – and what a good night was had by all, the MD cannot race due to dodgy knees but everyone else attended a night of racing and pizza. Sadly the girls did not quite whip the boys however a good show was put on with one female in the final race. The overall winner was Wayne Barney Production Manager, who also managed to obtain the fastest lap time. Graham Ralph from the commercial team came a proud second and Nigel Jefferies, a valued team member in the fabrication and installation team – came third. Everyone gave the thumbs up to the night and a few converts to racing have been born. The team at Teamworks Karting were excellent and I would recommend this as a company team event for anyone.
Monday was a busy day – in and out of meetings with practically everyone involved in one way or another. Scheduling, Management and Senior meetings that were held were all working towards improving internal and external relationships. Meetings here can be interesting, sometimes there is confrontation and often there is laughter but whatever happens the main objectives are to build better communication regarding Contracts and People. Plans were made for site visits this week and we will have teams at Universities, Residential properties and fabricating in the workshop.
Tuesday and the sun shone, it was really quite warm in Reading and the sun always puts a smile on peoples faces. Danny Moody passed his competency training with regard to PAT and is now able to ensure that all electrical items are tested for site and workshop use, he has learned that there is much to do and he put his training straight to use to ensure that all portable electrical equipment is compliant.
Wednesday & Thursday
Wednesday and Thursday were people days – training in the workshop, fabricating and making things work. It is staggering to see a lump of metal being manufactured and crafted in to something beautiful. MD spent a lot of time on the phone to CSCS trying to establish why architectural metalworking is not considered a skill and therefore has no NVQ qualification set against it. Training plans being made with regard to Abrasive Wheels and Manual Handling. Time for Train the Trainer me thinks! Guys on site with the usual issues of clients who moan we are not there actually not being ready when we arrive – frustrating for us to have people standing waiting for jobs to be completed.
Friday was a lovely day for the Directors as we attended the Pride of Bracknell Awards at Bracknell and Wokingham College hosted by Ady Williams and Andrew Peach from Berkshire Radio. What a pleasant evening spent with entertaining and interesting people and most importantly how humbling to be in a room of people who achieve by what they do to help others. One of the Champions was a 93 year old who still works to help others less off than herself, she almost ran to the stage and I would be grateful to have her energy when I am 63 let alone 93. There was much laughter, tears and general conviviality in what was an evening sponsored by many local companies.
On a work front sickness has beset some of the team which always makes life difficult as we are a small team.
- People – love or hate them we employ them and there are always issues surrounding what is deemed fair.
- Finances are always challenging, this week has been focused on factoring and main contractors not liking us using factoring however they are part of the problem as they do not pay for 60 days or more. Still looking at securing Bonds, think there is a way forward but as with everything it means the house on the front line again.
- Getting recognition for what we do – it is really frustrating that architectural metalworking which is highly skilled has no recognition in the eyes of CSCS and CITB. If you weld pipes and steel structures fine but when you make that pretty and delicate it is not a skill. This is one that I need to delve in to more and see what we can do – perhaps we need to create an NVQ in Architectural Metal Working
- Supplier Questionnaires – quite rightly suppliers ask us to complete a questionnaire in order to establish our competency and ability. We are CHAS Accredited which is an industry standard and you would think this would make life easy – but no! Every questionnaire is different and some of the questions are impossible to answer – I often wonder who actually reads the answers too as we have previously sent a completely unfinished document in error – that passed scrutiny. Time for the construction industry to really look at what is important and what is not regarding competency.
- Independent suppliers are an important part of the chain but the ever increasing costs and smaller margins make it difficult to justify the amount of work that goes in to the paperwork. We take health and safety really seriously hence I studied and passed both of my NEBOSH qualifications, further I am now going to bring the our training in house – which will mean lots of train the trainer for me!
This weeks challenges have been mainly based around people and the challenges that employing people brings. We work hard to not have a ‘them and us’ culture here but there are times when the differences between monthly and hourly paid staff shows. It is easy for both parties to not understand the frustrations of employees and colleagues.
These are challenges that we face daily and that we rise to, we strategise, we plan, we train, we improve, we discuss and we work in partnership with people to ensure satisfaction.