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PodcastsDecember 20, 2018

How the construction and infrastructure industry can encourage Māori-led players


Business is Boring is a weekly podcast series presented by The Spinoff in association with Callaghan Innovation. Host Simon Pound speaks with innovators and commentators focused on the future of New Zealand, with the interview available as both audio and a transcribed excerpt. This week he talks to Warner Cowin, founder and CEO of procurement and bidding consultancy Height.

A big theme in the world of business and economics this year that I struggle to understand, yet is proven over and over again, is that in the middle of a construction boom companies in the sector are going bust left, right and centre and no-one is said to be making any money. Which, when you look at supply and demand, and also things like the cost of materials and the highly concentrated set-up for supply, seems a bit bananas.

Well, one figure in the industry – the founder-CEO of procurement and bidding consultancy Height – knows the business from both the pitching and commissioning sides of the fence. And he has a few idea that he has been sharing as to what might be off in this particular soup. His name is Warner Cowin, and he’s an ex-RNZAF engineering officer who’s taken many of the disciplines and skills from military life – a place so influential on business team structure accountability, culture, and systemisation – and used those to help build his successful 15-person consultancy.

To talk construction, things learnt in the services, and empowering Māori and Pacific business through clever delivery of big projects, Warner joins the podcast

Either download this episode (right click and save), have a listen below or via Spotify, subscribe through iTunes (RSS feed) or read on for a transcribed excerpt.

That idea of taking a really thoughtful approach to help grow those small businesses that’s something that’s really personal to you as well in your own journey, you are a part of EO the entrepreneurs’ organization at both ends of the scale in helping small business and also learning from other large and established business.

Yeah, I think a lot of that business isn’t necessary doing work with those government organizations… you know this is probably a different topic but doing business with government is a really good opportunity. As clients they never go bust – well we would hope they never go bust – but they generally pay on time and the types of people in government organisations are generally pretty good. They care about what they do to create opportunities for smaller business to participate in that business opportunity.

And also I think in New Zealand roughly 20% of the market is dictated by government so they have a particular influence over the market. So if they can instill a sense of what is an acceptable level of health and safety or participation of supplies that then by nature filters through to other parts of the sector.

Keep going!