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A call for one voice for concrete

NZ Ready Mix Concrete Association (NZRMCA) QM Magazine Featured Image

A number of associations with an interest in the country’s concrete industry are calling for a single representative organisation.

The NZ Ready Mix Concrete Association (NZRMCA) says there are at least six core organisations that represent specific cement and concrete sector interests, “all of whom fulfil similar roles in the industry”.

“With people capital and financial capital increasingly limited the question has to be asked ‘can we do better’,” it says.

Similar questions have been considered globally, it adds, with a lot of consolidation among concrete related trade associations.

In addition to the NZRMCA, the other protagonists of the idea are the Cement and Concrete Association of NZ (CCANZ); Precast NZ (PCNZ); the NZ Concrete Masonry Association (NZCMA); the NZ Concrete Society; and the old NZ Portland Cement Association, which is now defunct.

“With this number of organisations it is not surprising there is some duplication of services, as well as key personnel being stretched across several organisations,” says the NZRMCA.

“Furthermore, each association competes for membership, sponsorship, event registrations, publication sales et al in what is a small market.”

There is also duplication of many administrative functions, says the association. “Each organisation has its own governance policies, is subject to an annual audit and maintains a membership database. Transaction costs are higher than they need to be. Furthermore, each has a website and communicates to its membership through a regular newsletter.

“So while the system is not broken it could be more efficient and the efficiencies generated could be used to further support the membership of all these associations.”

The NZRMCA points to recent consolidation in the timber industry where several representative bodies consolidated into the Wood Processors and Manufacturers Association (WPMA) and the merging of Roading NZ and the Contractors Federation into the CCNZ.

The memberships of CCANZ and the Concrete Society were surveyed in July 2014, with 300 of the survey sample cutting through the membership of NZRMCA, the NZCMA and PCNZ. Asked whether six associations is too many, some 70 percent of respondents felt it was. They were also asked whether the industry could be effectively and efficiently served through a single association and, again, 70 percent of respondents said yes.

The NZRMCA concedes there are barriers to the introduction of a new model and complexities around fee structure and membership base that will need to be overcome.

“Some organisations have a corporate membership structure, some an individual, structure, or both.

“The independence of the Concrete Society as a technical society is seen by some as a non-negotiable item.

“Notwithstanding this, there are models of organisations within organisations that are seen as independent. In a group structure, a parent organisation governs a group of subsidiary organisations which retain their own legal identities. The relationship may continue indefinitely or may be an interim stage prior to full merger.

“Alternately there are current working models where a group of organisations which retain their own legal identity are members (or shareholders) of a single association which represents the group’s interest.”

“The Concrete Society would retain its identity and become the professional wing of the organisation, responsible for education, training, seminars and conference, says the association.”

One voice

The way forward is a single association, NZRMCA iterates. “Such an association would have one consistent voice driving advocacy, education, training, information exchange, research and quality assurance, whilst serving engineers, architects and anyone with an interest in concrete.

At the same time, the interests of individual sectors (ready mixed, precast, masonry et al) could be effectively served by groups. Individual sectors would retain their identity and have a board seat.

“In the model proposed, the Concrete Society would be retained as the professional wing of the new association and would have responsibility for matters of training, education and research.”

  • This is a precis of an article published in the February 2016 issue of NZRMCA News, which was based on a 2014 NZ Concrete Conference paper written by Rob Gaimster (CCANZ), Bob Officer (NZRMCA), and Carl Ashby (NZCS). The paper won the Sandy Cormack Award for best conference paper.

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