Ranger reflect on the lessons of 2018
Ranger reflect on the lessons of 2018
As we approach the end of the year—and high summer in Australia—Ashley Thacker, general manager at Ranger Lifting, reflects on the last 12 months.
What a year that was. Where shall I start?
We moved into our new facilities, opened in another state, increased staff numbers, won one of the most coveted awards in the industry, and marked our 20th anniversary with a party that nobody will forget in a hurry!
It’s been 12 months notable for change and a period of time that has taught us some valuable lessons, which I’m happy to share in the likelihood that some readers might be about to tackle similar challenges.
Don’t underestimate team spirit
Our year started with new premises nearing completion—but three months late. We had to split our workforce over two sites and keep on top of customer demands all the while. But once again our team spirit managed to prevail and we got back on track. Not only that, we delivered impressive growth and welcomed lots of new customers. And staff levels have gone up by half.
None of it would have been possible with a disenchanted workforce. Get a team fighting for the collective cause.
With larger turnover come increases in costs, which have to be accounted for. Properties, product, staff, vehicles… it all has to be paid for before a firm can make money. Businesses get growing pains. Further, expansion takes people out of their comfort zones or areas of expertise into new realms where they might not be as well suited.
Companies need to be prepared for that; promotions, transitions, and role expansions are not always seamless. I like the way Kristie O’Connor, our customer service manager, put it to me recently: “It’s like an iceberg,” she said. She meant that the results are there for everyone to see but beneath the waterline are the failures, learnt lessons, mistakes, corrections, and most of all the sheer effort that has gone into building a company—this year and every other year before that.
It’s important to raise a glass to a job well done. At low moments, one realises just how precious successes are. Without them, business would be a meaningless slog. I was keen to rush back from the UK last month (November), for example, to share with the team our Lifting Equipment Engineers Association (LEEA) Customer Service Award, presented during the LiftEx trade show in Milton Keynes.
There’s nothing wrong with punching the air every now and again. What an honour it was to compete with—and beat—much larger, international companies. We set our own very high standards but endorsement from the highest authority in the land was a great achievement. I’d encourage other businesses to seek out the top awards in their sector and see if any criterion suggests it’s worth an entry.
Success comes in different packages, however. It might be the completion of a project, winning an order, a member of staff’s achievement (Kristie became a LEEA TEAM Card holder this year!), or something entirely different. We made sure we reflected positively on fulfilling contracts with three of Sydney’s major infrastructure projects simultaneously, whilst opening in Melbourne and making inroads in a new city. Other significant projects also received tender bids from Ranger as the presence of the business grew exponentially.
It’s not a contradiction of Lesson Two to say that a business shouldn’t fear expansion or relocation. It’s true that one needs to be aware of the inevitable, associated challenges, but if the timing is right, and the due diligence complete, take the plunge. We admit to being somewhat concerned that we’d lose the customer base we grew over 20 years at our previous facility but the opposite has been the case. And people understand why the relocation to Prestons, nr. Sydney, made sense.
Might you have outgrown a facility? Have you put on a bit of weight but still try to fit into those skinny jeans?
I talk to a lot of professionals over the course of a year—2018 has been no exception—and it’s clear that not all business owners, managers, or supervisors show due appreciation to their team. After all, without them, nothing would be possible. Honestly, I know that at busy times this year we probably didn’t show due appreciation for all the staff that went above and beyond the call of duty, particularly during the aforementioned transition. At times of great stress, the moral grounding of a manager is tested the most.
Make New Year’s resolutions
Without resolutions, we’d have been lost this year. We needed goals to keep us focussed.
Ranger’s growing workforce will no doubt have again made an abundance of professional and personal New Year’s resolutions between them. And I encourage it. To quote Kristie again: “Without a plan, ideas are just a dream.
Goals for 2019 include stabilising the business and implementing streamlined processes, without hindering the company’s ability to act as a rapid response rigging provider in what is a reactive industry. Affording time for key stakeholders to work on the business rather than in it is also fundamental to ongoing growth.
Take a (productive) break
We all know the proverb, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”.
Most Australian businesses shutdown for a prolonged period over Christmas, which also doubles up as a summer holiday down under, akin to some European countries during August. Savvy businesses will use the period to their advantage and won’t simply put the out of office alert on the email system before locking the door behind them.
Downtime is just as crucial as time spent at work. Everyone works so hard at Ranger, putting in long days and weeks, with many of the inspection team seeing their diaries booked for weeks in advance. The Christmas break allows them to recharge with their families. Reality is that certain business practices will be retained over the festive period but it’s important to put things into perspective.
Make 2019 your safest year yet.
It’s a time of year when the importance of going safely home to families every night after work is emphasised. Imagine an empty chair at the table next Christmas. That’s why I encourage all businesses to constantly review their safety practices. Treat the holiday period as a time to take stock. Every facet of a company needs analysing, from the warehouse to payroll. Safety in the workplace is everyone’s responsibility. Trip hazards, working at height, falling objects, spillages, pedestrian aisles… the list is endless and, honestly, it can be painstaking—but it’s necessary.
Ranger has already scheduled a series of educational, thought leadership articles and public relations initiatives in 2019, which is an effective way of ensuring safety stays high up on the agenda. People can get sidetracked by brand awareness. That’s important too, but I’d like to see more businesses in our sector and others taking time to educate their audiences on making safe choices and explaining how to inspect their equipment before use.
Know your market
Understanding our end-user sectors and the evolution of our marketplace continues to serve us well. How closely have you studied the coalface?
Construction and infrastructure will continue to be driving forces in New South Wales and Queensland, for example, while mining will start to pick its feet up eventually. We’ve highlighted growth in the civil sector, while magnetic rope testing and crane ropes are areas of growth potential, as earlier commentaries have explored.
Have a great Christmas!
For more information contact us on 1300 SLINGS