Often in trades, it is the people working on the tools that get recognised and not the people behind the scenes that support and generate the success of a business. Lisa Morton of Dunedin Monumental Masons is one of these people.
When Lisa and her husband Craig took over Dunedin Monumental Masons around 12 years ago, there were only a couple of people working in the business and a very limited cash flow. Today the company produces award-winning monumental masonry.
Lisa’s contribution to the business may sound familiar to many people who bring non-construction skills to a construction business. She says, “I have a National Certificate in Retail Marketing and came into the business from a retail background. Now I run the office. At first, it was a testing ground to see how it would work but generally speaking Craig manages our team and getting the work done. Once the work is done, the paperwork is on my desk. Our jobs are separate, so we very rarely get involved in each other's work.”
Outside of the business, Lisa is paving the way towards change in the industry as the first female president of the New Zealand Master Monumental Masons Association since its establishment in 1945.
While Lisa is integral to the effective running of their own business, she had not considered a role in the NZMMMA previously for reasons that are familiar to a lot of women working in construction businesses. She says, "Five years ago I wouldn’t have had the confidence to take on the presidency of the Association as being a mum was my only identity." But a 25-year involvement in NZ LandSAR (NZ Land Search and Rescue ), working her way through to sit on the Dunedin District Committee and now Regional Committee and acting as Treasurer for both committees has given her the confidence to take on this new challenge.
Lisa knows the presidency may be challenging at times but she has a considered approach. She says, “I am really excited about the role but also clever enough to know I have lots of people around me with knowledge and I have no hesitation in asking for their help and advice. Every Chairperson brings something new that they are passionate about to the Association. I’m keen on focussing on efficiency - improve that and the rest will follow.” Lisa also has a hands-on approach to running the business that she will bring to the Association. She says, “If I see something that needs to be done I will grab the broom and sort it out. It doesn’t matter if I’m in my office clothes, and I don't ask staff to do anything I'm not prepared to do myself.
“My role as Chairperson of the NZMMMA is to look at things from another angle and make things better for the trade, make the Association work smarter not harder. Just because we have always done things this way, doesn't necessarily make that the right way. I believe I’m going about this in the correct way, talking quietly and explaining why I’m thinking about doing particular things. So far there has been a great response.“
Lisa is really looking forward to the challenge and feels, as a woman, she can bring her extensive knowledge and skills to continue the work of this well-established association. As with most people who take on leadership roles, Lisa is dedicated to the trade and is passionate about implementing her vision of what may be possible. She is looking forward to any improvements and innovations the Association can implement and says that will be very rewarding.
Lisa Morton with recently qualified employee Michael Thompson.