Decisions: Garvis Snook - Rok - Chief executive of the 'nation's local builder'


... was to go with my convictions. I've spent my life in construction and I recognised that the industry doesn't work very well, because it is driven by two kinds of manager. For the engineer it's about overcoming technical difficulty; the money man's skill is to use contract law to screw more money out of customers and pay less to sub-contractors. Two groups of people are missed: customers, and most importantly, the people who actually do the building work.

I'd long thought about this and came up with a theory that if you really care about those who do the work, you should make them feel valued and, in turn, expect them to deliver a great service. That's win-win.

In 2001, I got the opportunity to put my theory into practice when I joined Rok's forerunner EBC. I went to the board and laid all this cultural stuff on the line. That was my loneliest moment as a leader. People told me construction didn't operate like that. Yet Rok has grown at 40% a year and we're more profitable than any other company in the sector. So now I know it works!

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