Atlas Fibrous Plaster Co Ltd owner Bryce Clifford has been working in the interior systems industry his entire working life or, as he would say, “since Noah built the ark”.
Well known in the Hawke’s Bay and beyond, Mr Clifford is not only an employer of award-winning apprentices, but also a businessman who attracts and retains outstanding people.
He takes pride in passing his knowledge and experience on to his employees, while also encouraging his long-term employees to do the same.
“I make good tradespeople out of the young people coming through the building process. I’ve trained over 50 apprentices, and have another six currently in training,” Mr Clifford says.
“At Atlas Fibrous Plaster you’ve got guys with 10, 15, 30 years’ experience willing to pass on a lifetime of knowledge. It doesn’t matter to me if you’ve never been in the industry before. As long as you are willing to put the time into learning, I’m willing to give you the opportunity to make something of yourself.
“Industry training is its own reward. It has been, and will always be the future of this company. When an apprentice qualifies, I am proud of them as I know that a qualification is something they will have for the rest of their life.
“I don’t have any formal training in people management as such, but my style is to put people at the forefront of all business decisions. This has served me well – it’s how I created the culture that I want in the business.
“Being honest and up front, acknowledging good work and letting my team have input into the decision-making process are all great things to practise in business.
“I give my team members the chance to prove themselves, not just to me but also to themselves.
“Loyalty comes when respect is a two-way street. I’m not only the boss when I hire a new team member — I might also be mum, dad, grandad, loan shark and general life therapist.
“We have a diverse team — all ages from all walks of life. From the start, I am there to support them at whatever stage they are at.”
Perhaps the biggest secret to his success is that he simply enjoys what he does.
“If you enjoy coming to work every day, your team can tell and they feed off that.”
For more stories about legendary bosses like Bryce Clifford, visit mybosslegend.nz.
‘Wise words’ from a legendary employer . . .
• An effective leader is bald and has a mo (just kidding) — is willing to put time into developing his employees.
• A commitment to industry training means giving people the opportunity to prove themselves, to make something of themselves.
• The best business decision I ever made was training apprentices.
• Lifelong learning means keeping up with industry trends and, with the input of others, doing something outside of the square.
• At the end of a tough week I go home to my squeeze (wife) and unburden the week.
• In five years I hope one of my team is doing all the work and I’m still collecting a good part of the money (ie retired).
Bryce Clifford, Atlas Fibrous Plaster Co Ltd