Year in Review: Herman Kok – A surprising turn of events

This story is over

Let’s first of all get the biggest disappointment out of the way: England literally ‘thrown out’ of the European Football Championship by Iceland!

The ‘Iceland Special’ consists of a bearded Viking being able to produce a ‘throw in’ which just about reaches the penalty spot. A seven foot tall teammate will be waiting for the ball and nicely lays it off for the third man who comes steaming up and punts the ball in the goal.

I mention this for two reasons; firstly the television commentating team mentioned the ‘Iceland Special’ before kick-off and even showed recordings of how Iceland successfully executed this move on several occasions. Secondly every football pundit expressed surprise that Holland (I declare an interest here!) a top five world ranked team, had been knocked out of the competition.

The only weapon in Iceland’s armoury was well known and the England squad should have been aware of it and practised in how to deal with it. Furthermore, the notion that Iceland was a ‘minnow’ team could have been quickly dispelled if England had realised that Holland was not participating because Iceland had beaten them twice in the qualifying rounds.

The point I make is that we so often ignore obvious evidence even if it stares us in the face; complacency is probably the worst enemy of any business sector but it is certainly true in construction.

Site teams are always happy to experiment, use the latest techniques, the latest tools and newest products but in terms of running the business we find it very difficult to be different.

It has been a few years since our sector came out of (what for construction certainly was a double dip) recession.

Companies are getting back in shape and back to doing what they have always done. Reflecting on the dark days between 2008/2012, when most of Lincolnshire construction companies lost money and quite a few lost up to half of their workforce, it feels as if an opportunity was missed to engage people power.

Some company structures result in employees being encouraged to explore opportunities and new markets which can improve chances of survival in hostile economic climates. The John Lewis model of employee engagement and our own Lindum Employee Ownership concept are structures which could have made a difference – and it is disappointing that in 2016, a year of consolidation, we did not see more construction companies exploring structural change.

2016 has not been a year for confidence boosts; political turmoil is rife, again politicians were not in tune with the mood of the people and Brexit took a nation by surprise. Prominent Leave politicians had to be woken up in the night to hear the news that they had won after all!

The resulting devaluation of Sterling will have an impact on white goods and other imported materials in 2017 when existing supply contracts run out and I fully expect that costs of major projects will go up as a result. Whilst there is some positive news of major manufacturers remaining loyal to the UK we also see a reluctance to commit to investment whilst uncertainty around a Brexit deal prevails.

My only regret is that I did not listen to Councillor Colin Davie when he accurately predicted Brexit and Trump when we met in March.

Colin could have been on a hat-trick if Boris Johnson had become PM but the ‘Ides of March’ (Idus Martiae for Boris) replay in the form of Michael Gove (Et tu Brute?) put paid to that one.