This is a column by landscapers, for landscapers. In it, you’ll find knowledge, views and insights from professionals just like you, who are currently working in the industry. This issue, we’ve got feedback on a subject that is probably on many of your minds…
Q. How has Covid affected your pipeline of work?'
Mace Landscape Group
Interviewee: Neville Mace (Director)
Location: Auckland Staff: 80
Initially, Covid-19 had no impact on our pipeline or work. We did have a little difficulty getting supplies but that was soon back to normal. We still have plenty of work coming up and we haven’t had any cancellations. But we are keeping an eye on work after Christmas, because we have noticed there have been longer delays than usual between quoting work and the client accepting the quote.
Our work is a mix of residential new builds and renovations and commercial work. The residential market seems busy. I think this is partly due to the lowered travel opportunities, so people have some money available. Also, the low interest rates meaning you don’t get much reward for keeping money in the bank, so you may as well enjoy it by improving your home.
We have seen a slowdown in commercial work, though, and there is a level of uncertainty about work in the future. I feel for some of our clients’ businesses in this space, some of
whom have up to 80 staff. The wage subsidy has been great, but it doesn’t cover the full wage costs, or their business costs, so this is a difficult time for them.
Interviewee: Stuart Bain (Managing Director)
I don’t want to be over-confident, but we are as busy as we’ve ever been. We’ve got 30 projects on the board of upcoming work and everyone would love their jobs done before Christmas! We’ve got some big jobs in there, which are well planned with quite significant investment, and several will take more than a few months, so we certainly have
work lined up for the foreseeable future.
There are a number of reasons behind why we have a good flow of work coming up. People have been spending more time at home and want it to be a nice place to spend time. There is no international travel, so some of our clients have money available, and money is cheap to borrow right now. Our clients are looking at landscape improvements as not just enjoyable for themselves living in the home right now, but also as a good investment by adding value to their property.
I also have my suspicions that some have had a crack at DIY landscaping over the lockdown, found it harder to get what they wanted than expected, or they now realise they want more of what they’ve started, so now they’re coming to us!
A lot of our work is high-end on nice, older homes, rather than new greenfield developments.
Our clients are looking for ‘outside rooms’, with outside fireplaces, or in some cases full outdoor kitchens. Others in the mid-range are looking to make their lawn flatter and more usable, which is a very common goal in Wellington!
Our biggest issue right now is finding ‘shovel-ready’ staff. We’ve been lucky to recruit a few returnees and we are looking for more. We’ve got seven apprentices, including three first years – so I appreciate the government’s subsidy scheme to help us make that work.
Interviewee: Tim Goom (Director)
While we were initially concerned at the complete stoppage of work caused by the Level 4 lockdown, the team pulled together and we got back up and running quickly. Now we have consistent work coming in, and the current forward workload is looking positive if we can stay in Level one or two.
The delays caused by lockdown have pushed our commercial work into summer. This means we’ll be very busy completing that and the residential work we would normally do in summer. So, while there is uncertainty in the economy, this is actually a great time for people to enter the industry – we are always looking for good, passionate new people to join our team!