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Spotlight on Debra MacKenzie

Debra MackenzieMacKenzie Homes are general builders who undertake custom built residential homes, renovations and additions as well as most types of commercial building work.

The company has three full time employees and employs the services of 30 to 40 subcontractors on a regular basis.

Debra MacKenzie was awarded the SA HIA Business Partner Award for 2012. Nominated by her husband Damien, he said 'Debra is not only my life partner of 30 plus years but also a valued partner in business.'

Five questions with Debra:

  1. How did you get started in the building industry?

    My first introduction to the building industry was with Kaze Constructions of Adelaide in 1983, and it was by no means glamorous. My husband Damian was a building supervisor with Kaze and as a young married couple looking to save, we would also clean the new homes on weekends to make some extra money to buy our own home. I was a legal secretary at the time. By 1987 with two young children we returned to Alice Springs where we began our own subcontracting business. I would keep track of the bookwork at the kitchen table in the evenings while still working as a legal secretary and looking after our young family, as well as the addition of a third child. As our business grew we began to undertake speculative home building as well as contractual work. It was at this time I began to work full time for our business doing the accountancy as well as helping on site. Our business began to grow and we then formed our company, MacKenzie Homes Pty Ltd in 1994. We returned to South Australia in 1998 and haven’t looked back.

  2. Describe a typical day

    My typical day's duties can be wide and varied. Each day I attend to my accounts, ensuring all are entered and that my MYOB bookwork is kept up to the minute. I attend to all incoming mail and emails and ensure they are addressed. I attend to any client queries during the day and keep the supervisors informed. Each week I do my bank reconciliation and pay the subcontractors as well as our full time employees, and monthly I attend to all accounts receivable and payable, superannuation and PAYG installment. Quarterly I attend to the BAS statement.

    At the end of each financial year I reconcile all accounting requirements and send them off to the accountant. I complete all group certificates and work cover reconciliation. It’s also at this time of year I contact all subcontractors requesting their up-to-date insurance certificates of currency, and licensing compliance.

    I take care of all Occupation Health & Safety issues with regard to compliance by contractors with regard to Job Safety Analysis forms. Each contractor is kept informed of our OH&S Policies. I keep our supervisors up-to-date with OH&S requirements and concerns as each project requires.

    I am currently implementing our Company Quality Assurance Policy which incorporates our OH&S Policy. I look forward to this being completed as it will be a very useful document in keeping our company and employees up-to-date with the processes of the business.

    I also attend to all marketing for our company, such as advertising in the paper and keeping our website current.

    At the completion of projects I also do the cleaning. I have a wonderful team of girls who help me, and I love to see our projects presented meticulously to the client. I just can’t seem to get out this duty.

  3. What lessons have you learnt?

    I have learnt ‘never put it off until tomorrow’. Always keep your bookwork up-to-date and always know the progress of each project so that you are aware of further expenditure.

    Always keep your client well informed, even when it is something they may not wish to hear. Honesty is always the best policy.

  4. Any tips for new business partners or starting out in business?

    • Most definitely keep your finances in check.
    • Look after your staff and subcontractors, always let them know your expectations.
    • Keep informed, the HIA is a wealth of information, Government departments are also there to help. When in doubt ask as many people as you need to.
  5. Future plans for the business

    My husband Damian and I are presently working towards our new office complex with completion expected in 2013. As well as residential our company does commercial projects and we are looking forward to extending that part of our business.

Debra represented South Australia in the National BPN Awards presented in Brisbane in May this year.