Team building BGC success

YOU know you’ve had a good environment on a construction site when all the workers turn up to see the finished product, says BGC Constructions general manager Gerry Forde. Mr Forde, a third generation builder from Ireland, has been with BGC since 1988.

He restarted the company’s entry into the commercial arena about five years ago.

“I love the people in construction,” he said.

“There is some head-butting. There always is when you take 100 people who all want to go in their own direction, try to mould them into a team and get them heading in the same direction.

“One of the best things you can do is foster a good team spirit. Half the battle is won then.

“On a construction site you will get a broad cross-section of people.

“However, workers on the site will pick you straight away if you are not straight with them or if you don’t know your job.”

Mr Forde said one of the beauties of the construction industry was the ability to see the finished product.

“Although in my position you don’t often get a lot of time to enjoy it. It’s usually straight on to the next job,” he said.

Mr Forde said he would “rather be on the building site than in the boardroom”.

“I spend half my time on building sites,” he said.

BGC’s return to commercial construction was a difficult journey.

“The bureaucracy at the time made it difficult,” Mr Forde said.

“You had to prove you had the experience, the expertise and financial backing.”

Since overcoming those hurdles BGC has gone on to be on the Department of Contract and Management Services’ ‘A’ list, the highest category, for builders deemed suitable to build complex buildings worth more than $5 million.

The company’s latest job is the $49 million Armadale Hospital.

BGC won this year’s Master Builders Association Builder of the Year Award for its work on the TVW Telethon Institute for Child Health Research Centre.

The company has a turnover of more than $800 million per annum and employs 2,000 direct employees and 4,500 subcontractors.

“We used to employ all our staff directly but now we’ve moved to subcontractors,” Mr Forde said.

“We try to foster free enterprise. Our philosophy is that we won’t have any part of union standover tactics.

“I’m not against unions. I’m against any form of coercion. Militant unions stifle development.”

Mr Forde said the pattern agreements that were appearing in Victoria could easily come to WA.

Under the agreements, unions are preventing subcontractors from working on sites or tendering for jobs unless they meet union demands.

“It’s up to the government to police its code,” Mr Forde said.

“There is enough Government legislation to protect the majority of workers against evil employers.

“A lot of our workers and subcontractors are union members. They have to be to work on other building sites – but we don’t have any problems.

“If one of the guys on one of my sites has a problem I’ll fix it. If it’s a legitimate beef I want to know about it.”

Mr Forde said there had been occasions where subcontractors on BGC sites had run into difficulties.

He said in such cases it was better to render assistance than punishment.

“It’s a hard-nosed business, this one, but that sort of help can buy you a lot of loyalty,” Mr Forde said.ELE

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