10/06/2010 - 00:00

Positive input at SPF

10/06/2010 - 00:00


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CONTRARY to a common catchphrase in management circles, SPF managing directors Graham Yarker and Jeff Nicholas make it a point to work in the business, not just on it.

CONTRARY to a common catchphrase in management circles, SPF managing directors Graham Yarker and Jeff Nicholas make it a point to work in the business, not just on it.

Both Mr Yarker and Mr Nicholas are focused on leading by example and make an effort to be aware of what’s happening on a daily basis, rather that an issue coming back in written form after the fact. They have aimed for a ‘winning culture’ workplace since establishing the company in 1996.

“We’re not simply figureheads; we’re hands on and interact with staff of all levels each day,” Mr Yarker said.

In addition to distributing stock from its 40,000 square metre purpose built facility in Jandakot, a significant proportion of Stainless Pipe and Fittings Australia’s stock is sourced and shipped directly from Europe, Asia and North America. Therefore it’s no surprise the company invests heavily in day-to-day job satisfaction to cope with the complex logistics.

This week, the business’s hard work was recognised at the 2010 Best Employer Awards as the winner of the medium-sized business category and runner up for the Insync Surveys Advocacy Award.

As the largest stockholder of stainless steel piping in the Southern Hemisphere, SPF’s annual turnover for the last financial year enabled it to acquire a software system that operates in multiple languages and currencies.

The software provides seamless communication between each of the six offices in Australia, as well as the sales teams in the United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, South Korea and Thailand.

Mr Nicholas told WA Business News this had been the biggest challenge as much of the procurement is now done overseas.

“Essentially we’ve always aimed to have the best team within the industry, so it’s important to provide [our staff] an environment in which they can excel,” he said.

“Plus there’s always something happening [in the company], whether it be a new office opening up or a new project,” Mr Yarker added.

“And that engages people, even if they’re not directly involved.”

Of all the entrants in the awards, SPF had the best overall engagement score – 60 per cent of staff feel personally invested in the success of the company’s performance.

Adding to this is the company’s enviable statistics for the past 12 months; while many other companies faced staff cutbacks, SPF reported zero redundancies and a 23 per cent growth in its workforce, which was largely attributed to staffing their international offices as well as additional local support staff.

“It’s fair to say that we’ve been exceptionally busy dealing with the global financial crisis and our growth strategy,” Mr Nicholas said.

“We took the position that [the global economy] was going to rebound and we would be prepared when it did.”

Key staff engagement initiatives include having an open-plan office so team members can easily access management, and allowing freedom as far as decision making goes.

SPF’s strong growth has also provided the ability to support an informal employee incentive scheme that shares the profits among all staff, salary packages that are at the top end of the market and a bonus day of annual leave for birthdays.

“The recruitment agencies we use recognise our supportive environment,” Mr Yarker said.



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