Loring Builders Pty Ltd are serious about Occupational Health and Safety for all people on the work site, working or visiting and have been awarded the HIA-CSR OH&S Tasmanian award for the past two years.
Mel Loring is the current Tasmanian HIA Business Partner of the Year.
How did you get started in the building industry?
When working at the National Bank, I met Rick who was then a bricklayer - I would complete his bookkeeping, which was only a couple of hours a week. Later, Rick and I travelled around Australia in a caravan and worked in Queensland for six months.
After 10 years of bricklaying, and building two new homes for us, Rick acquired his building accreditation and became a qualified builder. During this time Patrick, our son, was born and I started working two days a week with Ricks’ company, Loring Builders, while looking after Patrick, as well as working for the Department of Education.
The quality of our work was recognised and our business grew - we employed two apprentices to keep up with demand, and our second child, Ava, was born. At around the same time, we embarked on our first light commercial project. Things were very busy and I was fortunately able to take leave without pay from the Department of Education, to allow me to devote more time to our business and the family.
It soon became obvious to me that our business needed me to work full-time, and this is where my role increased within our business.
What is a typical day?
With the children now both at school, working for our business became more manageable, both financially and time-wise, for the first time in nearly 10 years.
It is just me in the office, so if I do not do it, it doesn’t get done. Up-to-date and efficient bookkeeping is extremely important and done on a daily basis. Bookkeeping consists of data-entering of invoices, managing accounts receivable and payable, superannuation and banking. Part of my role is to process the financials, including BAS, payroll tax and bank reconciliation using the Quickbook’s accounting system.
I regularly review, implement and manage our OH&S and our current Safe Working Procedures. I ensure we have regular safety meetings. This is where our employees review and implement any safe practising procedures that we already have in place. I organise training for our staff using both internal and external resources.
To ensure that I keep my mind healthy I visit the gym on a regular basis which helps keep my body strong while sitting at a desk.
It is important for me to have another interest outside of business and family life so eight months of the year I am heavily involved with the Kilburn Netball Club, being a life member. I am a junior selector, coach and player.
What lessons have you learnt?
- The building industry definitely has its ups and downs. When times are challenging, especially financially, don’t let that come between you and your husband, as hard as that may be. Try and stick with it. This will only strengthen your relationship, but make sure you learn from your mistakes and develop good business practices in the future.
- Document all client conversations and reply to every client emails, no matter how trivial, so you always have a paper trail.
- It is imperative to document all variations that are requested by your client and invoice the client as they are completed - don’t invoice them at the end of the job.
- Know your weaknesses. Rick and I see the good in everyone. Unfortunately, there are always some clients that want to discredit your business, just because they want to get something for nothing. A big lesson learnt is ‘Don’t treat your clients as best friends, no matter how nice they are’.
Any tips for new business partners or starting out in business.
Your business should reflect your personalities and the people you employee need to reflect that as well. No matter what is going on in your family/business or social life, always have a smile on your face when dealing with clients or suppliers.
I suggest as a business partner, you find an area you are passionate about and put your heart and soul into it. This ensures you become actively involved in the business and not feeling left out, so to speak.
Despite the fact our business only employs 3-4 people at any one time, it was important to me as a wife, business partner and mum that Rick, our employees, subcontractors and visitors return to their loved ones at the end of the working day. As a result I became very safety conscious - perhaps even ‘overkill’ in the beginning. I researched this and later asked a professional consultant to develop our ‘Safety Management Plan’.
My passion is certainly the WH&S side of our business and as a result, our business strives for excellence in this area. Loring Builders have been certainly rewarded for the time, expense and effort by winning the HIA-CSR OH&S Tasmanian award for the past two years.
Future plans for the business
Now we have a recognisable brand name Loring Builders has entered into the design and build area of expertise. Loring Builders has always wanted to be around for a long time in the future. Our future plans are ‘diversity’.
We will continue to build new homes and deliver exceptional workmanship and customer service to our clients, and are now venturing into projects such as townhouses and villas, in conjunction with our designer.
Our son has just turned nine and he already loves certain TV shows such as Mega Builders, Mega Structures and Grand Designs. So it would be wonderful for us if he was to choose a career in building or architecture in the future.
There are two main areas for us to improve and enhance our safety culture:
||Maintain our current proactive attitude to safety which is to immediately address safety issues as we identify them. This is critical to our workplace. We believe it is the most efficient and appropriate method to ensure the ongoing safety attitude we have developed.
||Being constantly interested in improving our safety system we have monitored the developments in the harmonisation laws recently approved by the Tasmanian Upper House, to apply in Tasmania from 1 January 2013.