Category Archives: News

NZTG 2019 Member & Supplier Conference, Queenstown

20th / 21st August 2019

Conference time is on its way again – join us for learning, networking and a slice of winter in adventure packed Queenstown.

Conference venue is the centrally located Rydges Lakeland Resort, with its stunning views.

Enrich your knowledge, meet up with friends new and old and enjoy a few days away from your business with your partner.

An interactive programme this year with inspirational speakers, product presentations, workshops and socialising.  

Read more about the event

Venue Location

This is your once a year opportunity to all get together as a network of professionals and share views, experiences and have your say on the direction of our Group and industry.

** MEMBER EARLY BIRD REGISTRATIONS **
Register by 30 April and receive a complimentary bottle of Southland Pinot (room dropped to your room at Rydges)
You have contributed toward this event already (through your monthly membership fee), so don’t miss out!

Rydges – one of the best views in Queenstown!

NZTG 2018 Member & Supplier Conference, Gold Coast

VIEW OUR CONFERENCE VIDEO

Attendance: 110 NZTG Delegates and Suppliers!

Another great conference this time in the vibrant Gold Coast.

Thanks to everyone who contributed this year and made the commitment to travel over the ditch.

Katipolt learning took up a large chunk of the event programme as well as fantastic supplier stands and presentations and the all important networking and socialising.

A very big thank you as always to J.A. Russell for backing this event and to all our other major and smaller sponsors – without you these events wouldn’t be possible.

Congratulations to our NZTG 2018 Award Winners:

10 Year Members:
Sound Control, Matt Tomiczek

5 Year Members:
Southside Electrical, Grant Kirkness
Serviceman, Craig McEwan & John Bayne
Stendy Electrical, Jeff Hiscock
W.E.C. (NZ), Mike Jennings
Valiant Electrical, Mike Oldham
Siggie Electrical, Scott Sigglekow
M.M. Electrical & Security, Mark Munro
Turned on Electrical, Zane Turner
All Solutions Electrical, Nigel Waites
Levin Heat Pumps, Daniel Gunther

Top Spend For The Year:
Advanced Electrical, Steve Banks (custom surfboard winner)

Largest Percentage Increase In Wholesale Spend:
Southside Electrical, Grant Kirkness (custom surfboard winner)

Recognition For The Most Progressive and Engaging Company:
Top Mark Electrical, Mark Lowe (custom surfboard winner)

Recognition For Katipolt Software Early Adopter:
Smart Pulse Electrical, David Marsden

Recognition For NZTG CPD Programme Early Adopter:
Process Electrical, Aaron Peters & Mike Heeney

NZTG Members Choice Award – Top supplier of the Year:
3rd Place – Vynco
2nd Place – Switch Lighting
Winner! – Legrand NZ

NZ Business: Tradies ultimate beneficiaries of Callaghan co-funding

New Zealand trade professionals network NZ Trade Group (NZTG) has qualified for a landmark R&D Growth Grant from Callaghan Innovation to boost the development of a suite of innovative software that will vastly expand business opportunities for its nationwide membership. 

The significant grant, which will be delivered as co-funding over three years and could total in the millions, will be applied to the research and development of NZTG’s ground-breaking all-in-one enterprise-level ERP software platform named Katipolt.

Katipolt is said to take the guesswork out of operating a trade business, offering business planning and goal setting management tools and training. It will replace System Fox, NZTG’s software that was launched in 2007. After determining that members needed a more comprehensive tool at their disposal, NZTG embarked on an extensive research and development exercise to develop Katipolt.

The Katipolt feature list includes an in-built design/drawing tool, quoting, controlled purchase ordering, project management, work scheduling, field management, employee timesheets, customer invoicing and lots more.

Katipolt is unique in that it:

  • Aggregates and captures all supply, demand and delivery data, and provides meaningful and granular analytical data to manufacturers, suppliers, installers, customers and industry bodies.
  • Operates as a community platform, encouraging cooperation and collaboration across the installer network. This makes it easy to leverage one’s own expertise and to seek out the expertise of others.

The software is currently available in an alpha testing environment to NZTG members, and the funding from Callaghan Innovation will be used to accelerate the project and the development of the software.

Andrewe Brown (pictured), founder of NZ Trade Group, says that the funding will make a step-change difference to the development and delivery of Katipolt, and to NZTG’s current 130-plus member business user group given the opportunity to be pilots in the implementation of the new software in their businesses.

“Most industry software currently on the market only provides individual features, but not an all-in-one completely integrated software solution for trade businesses,” he says. “Not only do Katipolt users gain benefits of the software – that is, fast quoting and seamless integration with suppliers and accounting packages – but they also gain access to distributors and suppliers for their relevant product offerings. The new software also greatly improves job sharing opportunities between members across the NZTG network.

“I should add that getting this grant over the line was not easy. It took a lot to convey to Callaghan that NZTG is an R&D company, but I am so pleased that we got there in the end!”

NZ Trade Group has the advantage of an in-depth understanding of end-user requirements, he says, based on their own trade contracting experience as trade business owners and managers, and years of developing and providing members with trade software.

NZ Construction News: Tackling the quality crisis

Over the last year there’s been a media storm around the alarming increase in substandard products and shoddy workmanship plaguing the construction industry. Many businesses are said to be taking on too much work, and in the competition to win contracts are operating with low and unsustainable margins, with some opting to use cheap, substandard products and low-cost labour to keep prices down.

Like the rest of the trades, electricians have been in the firing line following a number of high-profile stories, such as when large quantities of substandard and potentially dangerous electrical cable was fitted in multiple properties and needed to be removed and replaced.

While there are regulations, standards and legislation in place that electricians need to follow, there isn’t a great deal of scrutiny, according to NZ Trade Group (NZTG) general manager Andrew Jameson. “It is a requirement that all prescribed electrical work is signed off using a COC (certificate of compliance) or ESC (electrical safety certificate). However, there are often no routine checks that these have been completed.”

TACKLING THE ISSUES
Remarkably, Mr Jameson says, there’s currently no compulsory continual professional development (CPD) programme in place for electricians in New Zealand. “What
would also be of great assistance and value to the industry is a training index that helps sparkies find out what training is available to them,” he adds.

“Without knowing where to turn for assistance, many electricians feel like they’re in the dark. And often training sessions provided by product suppliers tend to focus more on promoting their own products rather than providing training on sales, installation and correct fit for purpose, product selection and advice.”

NZTG is tackling these issues for its members and taking it to another level with the introduction of its own CPD programme which commenced on 1 April this year. Mr
Jameson says feedback from the members so far has been overwhelmingly positive.
NZTG is a nationwide membership organisation made up of over 130 electrical businesses. It provides a number of benefits, including cloud-based quote and job management
software to optimise its members’ operations, collective buying power through its supplier network, collaborative networking to manage workloads, and a host of services including business training and education.

COMMITMENT TO QUALITY
A CPD programme is not compulsory at present for electricians in New Zealand, and NZTG will become the only provider of a structured CPD programme and training library for its electrical contractors. NZTG will also commence routine checks of members’ COCs to strengthen its commitment to quality.

“To be a member of NZTG, a contractor already has to meet certain ‘best practice’ standards, and our CPD programme takes that a step further again. We wanted to put higher standards in place than what the industry currently requires,” explains Mr Jameson.

Creating its own training sessions and working with its preferred suppliers, NZTG has put together a comprehensive CPD programme and has compiled a list of over 250 currently available training courses.

“We’ve assessed the quality of the training and put together everything contractors need to upskill their businesses – it’s all at their fingertips. We’ve worked closely with our preferred suppliers who are providing a lot of the training, so we know it’s all first-class. The CPD programme is set out in a simple-to-follow structure that helps everyone involved,” Mr Jameson says.

“The points programme consists of three categories: technical development, business competence and business/industry compliance. Each training unit is weighted based on a number of criteria. Member businesses need to complete at least seven points from each category, reaching a total of 21 points over a calendar year.”

The training formats include a mix of in-person workshops, online training and day-to-day best-practice and self-directed learning. It’s something NZTG hopes will catch on and become an industry standard.

RAISING THE BAR
Andrew Jameson says NZTG wants to raise the bar for the industry and set NZTG members apart from the rest by going the extra mile to let customers know that quality is paramount. “It helps to maintain and raise the calibre of our members and in turn helps strengthen their businesses.

We refer a lot of work and resources throughout the network, so this gives everyone involved the confidence that the people they’re referring work to will do the NZTG name proud,” he asserts.

“Alongside that, we have a genuine desire to look after the health of the industry, and we would be really happy to see other contractors follow suit with their own CPD programmes.”

Mr Jameson says there’s a strong business case for a CPD programme which teaches members about good business practices – doing what’s relevant and doing it properly. “Things like following health and safety programmes and reviewing insurance policies can often be overlooked at busy times, but not doing these things can have dire consequences for a business owner,” he adds.

“For example, there has been a lot of news recently about contractors and subcontractors not pricing jobs effectively and getting into financial trouble. NZTG helps skilled trade businesses become astute financial operators and plan for the future. Making money in a buoyant market is one thing, but what happens when the work slows down and the market becomes even more
competitive?

“Part of what we do is help our members plan for the future and diversify their skill set through training and partnering, which helps them get into the likes of data and automation. So while our CPD programme is going a long way to raising the bar for the industry and addressing the
publicised ‘quality crisis’, we’re also preparing our members for business beyond the boom.”

NZ Construction News: Business beyond the boom

Thriving during what’s regarded as the longest and strongest growth phase in building activity in New Zealand history is one thing, but building a sustainable business to last beyond the construction boom is another. 

We’re currently in what’s being described by some as the most dangerous time in the construction cycle. Amidst the abundance of work that’s out there, some contractors and subcontractors have been over-trading, leaving themselves unable to live up to their promises and resulting in project delays and reputational damage.

Alongside this, some operators aren’t accurately factoring material cost escalation into their bids, which in a matter of weeks can turn what was a profitable job into an unfeasible one. This can lead to severely reduced profit margins and in some instances has reportedly put some firms on the slippery slope to insolvency.

With developers increasingly looking to offload risk to contractors and subbies via lump sum agreements, and project delays on the rise, accurately forecasting material and labour increases is imperative to running a sustainable business.

So, even though the sun is still very much shining on the construction industry, how do you position your business to be profitable beyond the current boom?

NZTG 2017 Member & Supplier Conference, Auckland

VIEW OUR 2017 Conference Video

Our biggest conference yet! Attendance 170 Member Delegates and Suppliers.

A great success and overwhelming team effort. A big thank you to all our members who attended. Much learning, networking and socialising was had by all !

Thanks also to our exhibiting suppliers, your efforts were appreciated and all the stands looked amazing.

A very big thank you to J.A. Russell for backing this event and your continued support of our conferences every year, Legrand for sponsoring our ladies lunch at Mantells on the Water, Schneider Electric for sponsoring our unwind drinks at Bar Twentyone and Philips Lighting for sponsoring our pre-dinner drinks at Motat. There were some amazing member prizes this conference so thanks to all our supply partners for your generosity.

Congratulations to our NZTG 2017 Award Winners:

10 Year Members:
Amperelectrical, Clinton Smale

5 Year Members:
Devonport Electrical, Paul Sievers
Wired Mike Electrical, Mike Oughton
Dow Electrical, Chris Dow
LS Electrical Services, Lance Stensness
Kerridge Electrical, Steven Kerridge
Advanced Electrical Services, Jordan Stokes
Above All Electrical, Geoff Cook
Inline Electrical, Richard Allison
Myelectrician, Myell Smith
CSI Electrical, Scott Jones
Electrico, Andrew Arts & Grant Smallwood
Coromandel Electrical, Peter Richardson

Top Spend For The Year:
PS Electrical, Paul Stewart

Largest Percentage Increase In Wholesale Spend:
Mainstream Electrical, Martin Butterly

Recognition For Best New Business Of The Year:
Le Comte Electrical, Damien Le Comte

Recognition For Innovation And Business Growth:
Hillmac Electrical, Mike Hill

NZTG Members Choice Award – Top Supplier Of The Year:
Legrand New Zealand

NZTG Travel Prize – return flights for 2 to the Gold Coast and 4 nights at the Marriot Resort:
Walters Electrical, Martin Walters

NZTG Travel Runner Up Prize – 1 return flight to the Gold Coast:
Mike Wieblitz Electrical, Mike Wieblitz

NZ Business: The subbies thriving in today’s construction cycle

The increased material costs, chronic labour shortages and reduced bank funding that are plaguing the construction industry aren’t news to any trade businesses. But what is widely recognised as the longest and strongest growth phase in building activity in New Zealand history is now seen by some as the most dangerous time in the construction cycle.

That’s because the rapid escalation in costs is leaving some contractors and subcontractors susceptible to financial losses if they don’t accurately factor price increases into their quotes and bidding processes. Failing to do so has reportedly already left some firms out of pocket and on the slippery slope to insolvency.

What’s more, developers’ proclivity for securing lump sum agreements in order to offload risk to the contractor can have perilous consequences if not managed properly. The time between bidding for a job and work commencing can often be months apart and even in the space of a few weeks material costs can rise significantly.
If this increase hasn’t been factored into the bid, the project can very quickly go from being profitable to unfeasible. More often than not when there are delays, it’s the subcontractors who end up wearing the cost because they don’t want to lose the work by increasing their pricing.

Some trade businesses are also taking on more work than they can handle which is leading to project delays, financial losses and reputational damage. So, while the abundance of work is a great thing for the industry, it’s brought with it a number of risks that if not managed correctly can have dire consequences.

The power of a network
Kirkham Electrics, Andrew Baker Electrical, TJ Electrical and Sharp Electrical Solutions are four trade businesses that have found a way to not only navigate these risks but thrive in the current climate. The solution: NZ Trade Group (NZTG).

All four are members of NZTG – a nationwide membership organisation with 128 trade businesses on board. They provide their members with: cloud-based quote and job management software to optimise their operations, collective buying power through its supplier network, collaborative networking to manage workloads and a host of services including business training and education.

Stuart Kirkham of Kirkham Electrics in Tauranga runs his entire business through NZTG’s software which is compatible with the Xero accounting system.
“The NZTG software has a huge effect on our operations. We use it for all our plans, quotes, bill of materials, invoicing and reporting. It ensures our outputs are efficient and accurate.
“I believe having complete and fully operational software is the basis of running an efficient and successful business today,” explains Stuart.

It’s a view echoed by Andrew Baker of Andrew Baker Electrical in Auckland: “With NZTG’s electronic plan layout service, all you do is send the plans in with a description of what you want and they will provide a comprehensive electrical layout for the job, ready for you to check and email off with the corresponding quote. It only takes me 10 minutes which gives me more time with my family.”

Collaborative networking
The benefits extend beyond administration efficiencies according to Andrew who, through his fellow NZTG members, has the ability to navigate project delays and increased volumes of work by hiring and subcontracting tradies to and from other members of the network.
“I feel the network and support of electricians that help each other is huge. Whether you need labour help or have a question, everyone is willing to help.
“We have just completed a joint venture with a fellow NZTG member on a substantial electrical and automation fit-out in four weeks.  NZTG has been a huge factor in my growth over the last six years.”

That growth has seen Andrew Baker Electrical grow from what was supposed to be a hobby business to a staff of nine in the last six years and he has increased his turnover substantially in the process.

Business growth

The more NZTG members you speak to the more you get a sense of the impact having a network of experienced business operators to call upon has on their bottom line.
When Terry Joines started TJ Electrical in Auckland he had limited contacts in the electrical trade and found it difficult to grow the business in the direction he wanted to.
“Because of the systems NZTG has introduced us to we have been able to grow the business from a one-man band with an apprentice to a staff of eight, and it’s not showing any sign of slowing down.
“We have also expanded to service new regions and have introduced three more vans to our fleet.
“We have increased our turnover seven times over since joining NZTG,” says Terry.

Across the country NZTG has members with similar stories. Matt McArthur from Sharp Electrical Solutions in Christchurch says the efficiencies created by NZTG’s systems and support networks has allowed his company to focus on growth, increasing efficiencies and reducing overheads.
“We started our business two years ago with two staff and now we are up to ten staff. Our turnover has tripled in the past year,” Matt explains.
With plenty of work on offer in today’s climate, he adds that NZTG provides a solid platform for business growth.

“NZTG makes you more aware of what you should be charging to run a sustainable business, saving you from spending time on unprofitable work.”

With the construction boom showing no sign of abating, Andrew Baker Electrical has this to say about NZTG:
“The support is priceless – having a network of guys that literally help build your business is awesome. It’s a no brainer. I have learnt a lot from the group and always had a laugh with everyone involved, it’s such good a group to be part of.”

Photo: Andrew Baker of Andrew Baker Electrical, with Andrewe Brown – founder and CEO of NZ Trade Group. 

NZ Construction News: Efficiency in the face of resource shortages

There is no scarcity of information showing that the demand for tradies and construction workers is higher than ever before. With the number of jobs in the trade sector increasing rapidly to meet growing housing needs, trade companies are being forced to find efficient ways that result in higher productivity rates. At a time when trade businesses are operating within a market characterised by limited available resources, completing jobs in and under allocated timeframes is more critical than ever. Leading trade network NZ Trade Group’s (NZTG) General Manager, Andrew Jameson, says the key to meeting these challenges involves creating efficiencies. With a 120-strong membership nationwide, NZTG encourages smarter business decisions that, in turn, promote greater profit for their members.

At a time when trade businesses are operating within a market characterised by limited available resources, completing jobs in and under allocated timeframes is more critical than ever. Leading trade network NZ Trade Group’s (NZTG) General Manager, Andrew Jameson, says the key to meeting these challenges involves creating efficiencies. With a 120-strong membership nationwide, NZTG encourages smarter business decisions that, in turn, promote greater profit for their members.

“There are only so many workable hours in a day, so in the current market it is vital to maximise available hours in order to ensure that jobs are completed properly while increasing the umber of jobs invoiced,” Mr Jameson says.

It is important that businesses deliver on their customer promises by completing jobs within the time allocation while maintaining professional standards, he adds. “On a quoted job where 100 hours have been allowed, it should not be acceptable to complete that job in 110 hours, as this is a cost to the bottom line of a business. It also puts a business behind the eight ball and under increased pressure on their next job to meet deadlines.”

In some circumstances, this results in second rate finished work and, more importantly, work that is not up to legal standards. Mr Jameson says this can have a greater long-term impact on the bottom line of a business.

“Efficient planning can save time in the long run and ensure that the reputation of a business is not tarnished by poor workmanship created by a frantic rush to complete a job,” he says.

EFFICIENT RESOURCE ALLOCATION
Ensuring that your staff are competent and well trained to complete the job efficiently, to the standard required and on time, is also crucial, Mr Jameson says. “When this is not done, there is more downtime spent checking the quality of work to meet standards and comply, as well as running the risk of call-backs.

“One of the biggest challenges we see are businesses not utilising tradespeople, apprentices or skilled labour effectively. Each person has a different skill level and also a different cost, and it is essential that business owners look to utilise lower-cost assets in a way that has a higher cost to benefit ratio output. You should not have a qualified tradesman running cables in the roof at top dollar when an apprentice can do that at under half the cost,” he adds.

One mistake that is often made involves skipping the planning stages – when time is allocated strategically and assets are well apportioned. “Rushing through these vital procedures to save time results in quite the opposite effect,” Mr Jameson says.

“Poor project management at the initial stages of a project often means that assets are not being managed well, resulting in efficiencies not being achieved on a job. This also includes the ineffective management of materials and employees, with staff being moved from site to site, so there is no specific team member who is responsible for the job.”

Mr Jameson encourages business owners to ensure each job is set up effectively from the get-go in order to achieve a productive start and for the duration of the project to follow suit. He says that effective communication within the company is key to optimal project management structures. “Both staff on the tools and managers have a part to play in a high level of communication in order to achieve a productive support network and peak performance within the company.”

EFFICIENT SYSTEMS FOR SUPERIOR BUSINESS

Alongside the creation of efficient project management and training procedures, effective systems should also be employed. The NZTG software platform allows business owners to capitalise on the time-saving efficiencies that result from effective administration.

Mr Jameson says the platform provides a bill of materials and a timeframe estimate to complete quoted jobs. Measurable goals and targets can also be put against the job based on material and labour allowances. “It’s all about creating time saving efficiencies that improve invoicing speeds, enhancing transparency and consistency, while making sure all material is charged out for,” he says. “With prices being updated monthly, costs are kept more accurate which, in turn, allows for a smoother customer experience.”

He adds that the software also minimises the risk of confusion when the person who quoted the job is away, as the platform holds a digital record of quotes and invoices which are easily accessible.

Establishing efficiencies means business owners and their staff can work smarter not harder. Mr Jameson says curbing the ‘she’ll be right’ approach and replacing it with efficient procedures that maximise productivity from the available hours can hugely benefit trade businesses. “By focusing on these key areas, business owners will normally be able to achieve a 5–10% increase in efficiency and turnover. For most trade companies, this is a very realistic goal,” he notes.

“Looking forward, as demands within the construction sector increase exponentially, businesses will find that achieving these efficiencies will become even more vital to a prosperous business. With property development showing no sign of slowing, resources will no doubt be stretched further, making efficient project management and effective software systems a necessity for businesses to thrive.”

Source: NZ Construction News, April/May 2017

Tradie Magazine: Navigate Tradie Shortage with Collaborative Networking

http://bit.ly/2oR3p5A

NZTG is a nationwide membership organisation with over 120 trade businesses on board. They provide their members with cloud-based quote and job management software to optimise their operations, collective buying power through its supplier network and a host of services including business training and education. But it’s the power of its collaborative networking that’s grabbing the spotlight at the moment.

NZTG is a nationwide membership organisation with over 120 trade businesses on board. They provide their members with cloud-based quote and job management software to optimise their operations, collective buying power through its supplier network and a host of services including business training and education. But it’s the power of its collaborative networking that’s grabbing the spotlight at the moment.

NZTG’s General Manager Andrew Jameson explains how the collaborative network helps to manage workloads and retain staff.

“Despite the current boom, work isn’t coming through uniformly. Some member businesses are struggling to resource the jobs that are flooding in while others are facing project delays which can result in experienced tradies coming off the tools for a while.

“‘Take for example, an electrical contracting business facing a three-month delay on a job which keeps 10 tradies on the tools – the business owner is unable to redeploy all of these contractors internally and typically has to make the call to release them or absorb the cost, knowing that in three to four months he will need the staff again”

Andrew says other trade businesses should be getting together to replicate this approach which allows member businesses to gain from hiring and subcontracting tradies to and from other members of the network to cope with project delays or increased volumes of work.

“That way, if a contractor knows they’re not going to be able to meet a deadline you can send out a message to other member contractors in the are.a to see if anyone has some spare labour” he says.

DEALING WITH EMPLOYEE LOSSES
New Zealand reportedly requires 50,000 more tradies by 2021, but it’s not just finding new tradies that’s the issue, retaining the staff you currently have is imperative in this climate, says Andrew.

“The abundance of work is encouraging some tradies to start their own businesses, we’re also seeing more people moving into the regions as a result of rising house prices in major centres, so these factors are contributing to a high turnover of staff.”

Putting steps in place to improve staff retention is critical to today’s market place according to Andrew.

“When an employee leaves it causes a drop in productivity while trying to source new staff and getting them up to speed. To combat this, a lot of business owners are offering key personnel company share options or other incentives in an effort to retain those whom they cannot afford to lose.”

TRADIES TO BUSINESS PEOPLE
Given the abundance of work and shortage of labour, Andrew says trade businesses need to be looking to improve their backroom effectiveness.

“The more efficient your administration and business operations are the more time you can spend on the tools which is here you make your money.

“There are only so many hours in the day, so in the current climate it’s imperative you maximise available hours in order to ensure that jobs are completed properly while increasing the number of jobs invoiced, ” Jameson says.

He adds that part of being a savvy operator is making the right decision when choosing between jobs.

“More than ever, it’s important t o know when to walk away from a job because it’s not going to be profitable – it’s about trying to transition from a good tradesperson into a good business owner.”

A component of this involves business owners ensuring each job is set up effectively from the beginning in order to achieve a smooth project delivery.

“It’s worth taking the extra time at he beginning to get the planning stages right and strategically allocate assets and time. Rushing this stage can result in wasting materials and labour, not to mention putting your reputation at risk if your end product is affected.”

Andrew adds that given the challenges today’s market poses, it’s important trade businesses take every advantage they can get, whether it be collaborative networking , job management software, collective purchasing or business training and education.

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