It’s all about People

I went to a breakfast talk last week in Karori. They had Steve Tew from the NZ rugby union in to talk to us. Now there’s an upbeat organisation that’s on a positive roll at the moment.

He did point out though that it’s not all about the boys at the top of the game, they have to work to keep the grass roots going to keep the industry sustainable. His main points were:

People, People, People. It’s all about having the best people doing the right things.

Celebrate achievements.

Have a vision.

Have a plan to make that vision happen.

Measure yourself against that plan robustly.

Keep on developing your long term plans – keep an eye on the future.

I’ve been keeping an eye on this business’s future. I’m in Argentina for a month, leaving the business in the very capable hands of a strong team.

When I get back, we plan to be celebrating the achievement of one of our targets by having an extra-long Labour weekend.

The forbidden topic of Politics!

At dinner parties they say never bring up politics or religion, the same should probably apply to this blog. But with an election looming it is pretty hard to avoid its effect on businesses in Wellington.

No matter what your politics are, the effects of an election year seem to be felt widely through the Wellington economy.

From the consultants who are uncertain about their contracts, or businesses unwilling to commit to contracts due to uncertainty about changes with the incoming government, to the legislations that didn’t make it through before parliament shut up shop on July 31. Many things go on hold, at least until parliament resits in November, possibly until the start of the new parliamentary term next year.

Examples of this are the changes to the Consumer Guarantees Act I mentioned in an earlier blog and our Chartered Accountants Institutes merger with its Australian counterpart which has the go ahead in Australia but is on hold here.

And this isn’t even taking into account any jitters around proposed changes to tax, minimum wage rates, government funding etc…

For most, these delays will be only minor irritants and business goes on as usual but for others these can have serious effects. So from a business perspective I can see real merit in 4 year terms. So bring on the election, let’s hope coalition talks go smoothly and we can all get back to business as usual as soon as possible.

Make sure you get out and vote (Especially since by not voting it means that you don’t have a moral right to criticise the outcome).

If you have any feedback on any of my blogs I would love to hear it, send me an e-mail on

Earthquake Strengthening

I was walking along Courtenay Place back to my office off Cuba Street the other day after I’d visited a building where the strengthening had just been finished and I realised how much building strengthening is going on and is to be done.

Several other buildings I walked past had builders in them working on them and as I moved into Ghuznee and Cuba Streets I noticed how many buildings had yellow stickers, indicating they would be being worked on soon.

After Christchurch and our quakes last year the landscape has really changed for commercial property ownership. Where some property owners had perhaps been quick to dismiss council warnings about the need to strengthen and had grumpily said that it would cost them a lot but they couldn’t increase rents to recover it, now they are finding they are losing tenants or can’t get as much rent if their building doesn’t have a good enough rating. Businesses have got pickier about the buildings they’ll put their people into. And as a commercial building is valued by the market based on it’s rental yield, it’s important to be able to get good tenants.

Like many others in the same boat the owners of the building I visited had taken the opportunity to give the building a spruce up. The tenants were enjoying their smart new premises after the months of disruption.

Unfortunately once you get into the strengthening there are no tax breaks, the costs are not tax deductible, they are a capital cost. And you can’t recover it over time as a depreciation claim any more. The owners just have to face it as an additional cost of the building.

Even though you may think the buildings have a lot of value, not all owners have access to funds to meet these costs; Think of owners of apartments in Bodycorps who are unable to borrow against the cost of their property as, until the strengthening is done, they have a much lower value.


So while we might not be seeing cranes on the skyline with construction here in Wellington there’s plenty of activity being done and to be done in our existing commercial buildings. Let’s hope it contributes some growth to the economy with higher quality apartments, office spaces and retails spaces. And that the yields from the improved buildings reflect the stresses and costs of the process