The Smooth Operator initiative showcases leaders in the construction industry who are changing the way they operate in innovative ways with people, processes and technology. This week’s Smooth Operator is Arron Dendle, Director of CJ’s Demolition.
Arron has over 14 years of experience in the demolition industry and has been the Director of CJ’s Demolition since 2016. Working his way up from a demolition labourer to project manager and then Director, Arron is well versed in all facets of demolition. CJ’s Demolition is a specialised demolition contractor that conduct refurbishment work with Westfield, Woolworths and Coles as well as working on hospitality and Government projects.
What about the demolition industry appealed to you when you started and why did you stay in the industry?
I started as a demolition labourer after I finished high school. I had a mate who was working at a demolition contractor and they needed more labourers so I joined the team. It was originally part-time as I was also playing football as well as completing a carpenter apprenticeship at TAFE. Balancing football, my apprenticeship and working as a labourer was tough. Eventually, something had to give, and I chose to stick with demolition whilst I completed my carpenter apprenticeship. Unfortunately, once completing my apprenticeship there weren’t many carpenter opportunities out there for work. Thankfully, I was offered a management position as a project manager and stayed my course in demolition.
When I started the money was great but the longer I stayed in the industry the more I saw value in the environment and the work. In demolition, every day you are somewhere new, you are never on site for more than 3 weeks. I love how dynamic the work environment is and using big machines onsite. I relish in overcoming new problems and challenges and thinking outside of the box to get the work done in a professional manner and to our high standards. This type of environment keeps me motivated, hungry and my brain is constantly stimulated as you dabble in something different everyday.
What are the hardest things about the industry?
Demolition as a vertical in the construction industry does struggle to attract skilled workers. The industry is overshadowed by other verticals that are more appealing and the skillset necessary for a demolition labourer is undervalued. Unfortunately, having necessary tickets and licenses do not ensure quality workers. Offering apprenticeships in demolition would help build the calibre of workers necessary to fill the gap but there are no government-supported apprenticeships for demolition, so the onus is on the business owner to train quality workers.
In addition to this, competition is now fierce within the industry. When I first started there were very limited resources for demolition across New South Wales. It went from less than 10 to over 30 demolition companies in the region in the last decade. Although the industry is a tight-knit community people do transition between competitors. It’s like the NRL, money talks… it is just the nature of the game. It’s just so easy to jump ship to another demolition company who pays more but don’t have the processes, training, or provide the quality work and high level of service we offer at CJ’s Demolition. So the retention of staff is a hard challenge to overcome.
CJ’s Demolition has a very active social media strategy. Why do you invest so much time in social?
I manage the social media accounts at CJ’s Demolition. I am a big believer in the medium as it gives us the opportunity to gain people’s confidence through pictures and videos of work. By posting content every day we are able to be a back thought and subconsciously sit in people’s minds. Adding my humour on top of that to keep viewers and followers interested is just a bonus.
My team have to upload photos as part of their site diary. When that comes through, I share those photos on our social accounts. In addition, when I conduct my site visits I always try to get videos and photos of the jobs. It works well in this workflow as I have access to the client name, what work is being done and where. This information becomes a great business development tool for CJ’s Demolition. Viewers can see what assets we have, see the team conducting work professionally and that we are working on well-known projects for major players in the industry such as Sydney Airport, ALDI and TAFE NSW.
The power of social media is that if 300 people view CJ’s Demolition’s stories on Instagram or Facebook and if 100 of those people know 50 people and so on and so forth. It just has a network effect of word of mouth. We create connections through connections and display that we work with large clients and conduct work in a safe and professional manner. It also demonstrates our culture, that our Directors are very hands-on and accessible. We are not a big corporation, you can interact with our Directors on social media and share some friendly fire.
In this day and age its a habitual instinct to check out someone’s social accounts. It’s not going on their website first, it’s seeing their Instagram, Facebook or LinkedIn. At the end of the day, it’s free advertising. So why wouldn’t you give it a go?
CJ’s Demolition trust Assignar to run a paperless workforce. Read their case study to find out how.