Climbing a 2000-step New York stairwell in 50°C heat for 33 minutes — it’s not a problem for newly-elected Registered Master Builders Association president Darrell Trigg.
He’s taken similar challenges in his stride, including the Sky Tower three times and another one in Melbourne twice. And it’s all in support of various charities.
Darrell has spent 30 years in the NZ Fire Service, and is currently the Chief Fire Officer of the Ruakaka Fire Brigade in Northland.
He was one of 900 firefighters who raced up the 1103 stairs in the Firefighter Sky Tower Stair Challenge in May, raising more than $1.2 million for Leukaemia & Blood Cancer NZ.
And he was one of 400 firefighters who ascended the 80 floors of 3 World Trade Center at the 4th annual New York City Memorial Stair Climb in July.
Each climber honoured one of the 23 NYPD, 37 PAPD and 343 FDNY personnel killed on September 11, 2001, with the event raising $US73,000 for the Ray Pfeifer Foundation.
“You meet some fantastic people at these events. It’s just like the Registered Master Builders Association — it’s an organisation about people,” Darrell says.
“You’ve got to be reasonably fit — in New York it was 38° at 10am, and an estimated 50° in the stairwell. I took 33 minutes to do the 1920 steps — a bit under twice the number in the Sky Tower challenge.”
The 48-year-old smiles when he recalls the older participants’ strategy to make it to the top.
“It’s harder than it sounds. The more experienced guys start off slow and steady — and soon enough, we’re passing these young guys who have taken off at full speed and run out of steam a third of the way up!”
When it comes to the New Zealand construction industry that he’s now been a part of for more than 25 years, he says he loves creating something out of nothing.
He says he has an “intense interest” (rather than a “passion”, a word he says is too overused), to succeed, and to help others succeed.
On his web site, you’ll spot Trigg Construction’s motto — “Your Construction Partner”.
“We look to ‘partner’ with our clients. Our inclusive and transparent methodology involves all parties, every step of the way — allowing for full collaboration and an extremely responsive construction process.
“We work from the outcome backwards. Our client’s purpose is our starting point: we create a vision to match their desired outcomes, working backwards to identify the scope, and analysing all of the costs involved.
“We ask clients: What do you want to achieve? And what will it look like in 20 years’ time? We look long-term, and to future-proof our work and the client’s interests. That’s how I like to rationalise things.”
So what does Darrell see as one of the biggest challenges to New Zealand builders these days?
Look at Elevate
“The business side needs work. Builders can be a bit apathetic, and we need to change their mindset — to work more on the business, not just in it. Companies big and small need to allocate time for this.”
Darrell recommends all RMBA members take a look at Elevate on the RMBA members web site, which he says contains a mine of business-related information.
There are a collection of short videos on Elevate to help construction company owners — for example, it has helped him in the process of bringing in a new employee.
Previously though, Trigg Construction had cut back on employees when work became scarce in Whangarei and the surrounding area a few years ago.
“It can be tough in the provinces, and hard to keep employees when there are gaps in the workflow,” he says.
“So we encouraged our employees to form businesses of their own, and to contract back to Trigg Construction. This meant they could work for others when we were light on work.”
Darrell’s company had been involved in residential and commercial building for years, but recently decided to focus solely on the commercial sector.
“It means we can get alongside our clients and their team right from the start. We partner up, and build as simply as possible to yield better returns for our clients.
“In the provinces it’s more of a challenge. Lease returns on commercial and industrial space are lower than in the cities, but the cost is very similar — so you have to get creative to get things over the line.
“At the design stage, we’ll ask how the building’s future tenants will operate — again, we visualise the outcome then work backwards.”
It’s obviously a successful and effective approach.
“It was the right time for us to evolve into the commercial sector. The difference is that with residential the job can be seen as an emotional transaction, whereas in commercial it’s a business transaction. So you end up having different conversations with stakeholders.”
Darrell says it’s an exciting time to be president of the RMBA, and the construction industry is an intriguing place to be to make money right now.
“Even though it’s busy, there is carnage in the industry. There are opportunities for lots of work, but builders must be mindful of outcomes and contractual risk.
“Risk allocation, contracts, T&Cs — builders have to be wary, and the small print must be read and understood thoroughly.
“General conditions in contracts are mostly the same, but it’s the changes to those conditions that must be clearly acknowledged and considered.
“Contractual risk regarding things such as price rises during a project build must be fully understood, especially by younger builders.
“I urge all builders to get help if they need it before signing any contract. For instance, RMBA members can get help from the Association’s legal partner, Hazelton Law.
In the meantime look out for the Association’s new president as he makes his way around the country over the coming months to visit members and local branches.
And if your office happens to be in a multi-storey building, don’t be surprised if he doesn’t take the lift!