A master of training in frame & truss

Daniel Howe is Prenail Manager at Akarana Timbers in Auckland. With branches in Auckland and Christchurch, the company employs more than 80 people in Auckland alone.

Beginning his career, Daniel always knew he would follow in his builder father’s footsteps and join the construction industry, but he’d never heard of the prenail industry before starting work at Akarana Timbers around 20 years ago. “Until recently there were not many people who realised that frame and truss is a legitimate career,” says Daniel.

Akarana Timbers

“Formal qualifications have helped to give us credibility. Fortunately now the FTMA and BCITO are working together to raise the profile of the industry to prospective young people. It’s a great industry to be in and there’s plenty of scope for a career specialising in frame and truss whether you’re involved in manufacturing, detailing, quantity surveying, supervision or management.”

When Daniel first started at Akarana as a quantity surveying cadet the business was small with a staff of 15. Over the years he’s worked in the yard, on the shop floor, loading trucks, out on deliveries, quantity surveying, detailing and now management.

“When I started there were no qualifications for people specifically working in the prenail industry. The qualifications we have today are the result of a lot of hard work and collaborative efforts of BCITO and some very respected members of the industry. We are very lucky! As soon as the qualifications became available I put myself forward. This was an opportunity for me to get formal recognition and to be able to quantify the skills I had gained during my years in the industry. Now I’m a qualified frame and truss manufacturer and detailer, having completed both industry-specific qualifications.”
Daniel has even stepped it up to the next level and he’s now working through BCITO’s National Certificate in Construction Supervision (Level 4).

Previously Akarana Timbers had the first two detailing qualifiers in the country. “Detailing is a relatively new qualification and Kerry Singh and myself vied to be the first to reach the finish line but Kerry’s tenacity and hard work paid off and he beat me to it,” says Daniel.

“Currently we have six manufacturing apprentices and two working their way through the detailing qualification. Next year we plan to ramp it up and double this number. We run the training using ‘training champions’. We started training the best we had and now that they are trained, they in turn support the next wave of apprentices as they come through. The guys interact and learn best from each other.

“There are loads of benefits to training your staff. Some are tangible – I’ve seen the ROI figures for carpentry and I would suggest that we’d see a similar return. Also when you train staff less mistakes are made, there’s more understanding, more speed and more confidence for each individual. People are loyal if you invest in them so training helps retain staff and makes them eager to do a good job as well as developing their own personal sense of pride in their work.

“Our staff are not eligible to enter into an apprenticeship until they’ve completed a full year with the company. That keeps them committed and focused and being offered an apprenticeship is seen as an honour and a mark of trust. At the end, once they’re qualified, you know that you have fully engaged employees who want to use their newly acknowledged skills to help the company that trained them.
“Training apprentices is rewarding. I work closely with the apprentices and I feel the same sense of achievement as they do when they are successful.

“We’re wrapt to be involved in the BCITO mentoring programme. We are given goals to achieve between Training Advisor visits and have regular documented meetings to make sure we are on track. It helps us to be focussed and organised with our training practises.”

Daniel says they’ve seen a large increase in activity in the prenail sector over the last three years and they’re expecting this trend to continue into the foreseeable future. Training is a very important part of Akarana Timber’s growth strategy to be able to meet future demand whilst continuing to provide quality product.

More News

Press release: Search is on for NZ’s top carpentry apprentice

  • 10 April 2017

Carpentry apprentices from across New Zealand are being called to show their skills and compete in the Registered Master Builders CARTERS 2017 Apprentice of the Year.

Press release: Ultimate tradie road trip to attract new recruits

  • 2 April 2017

Kicking off on 10 April in Auckland, the Not Your Average Tradie Road Trip will see a group of talented BCITO apprentices spending four weeks visiting different regions, helping out community organisations, charities and schools with building woes.

See all News