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Making a difference to the industry

Kim Stewart Oct 10
Making a difference to the industry

When Roger Parton is asked what attracted him to the role of CEO of the Aggregate and Quarry Association of New Zealand he says it was all about the people and making a difference to New Zealand as a whole.

“The hands on attitude of the industry. It’s a very practical industry that is building things and contributing to the country. They are extracting material used for practically every part of New Zealand’s infrastructure.

“The people in the industry are down to earth by nature and they make a visible, practical and essential contribution as well as having a strong passion for the industry,” he says.

Roger arrived fresh from a role as CEO of Clubs New Zealand where he had worked for 14 years.

Roger cites his achievements pragmatically: keeping the AQA running efficiently and contributing to projects, most notably issues raised by the Pike River Mine disaster.

The AQA was a key industry contributor to the Pike River Implementation Plan team, which worked on codes of practice and legislation for the industry going forward.

“I was pleased to have been able to help manage the paperwork around this for the sector, until MinEx took over that role, so the industry could be heard.

“It was a major operation in terms of logistics and had huge implications for the industry. There was a lot of work that had to be done to get us to where we are today.”

Establishing better communication for the industry locally and internationally has been another focus.

For example Roger has established a comprehensive member database so information can be distributed quickly and efficiently.

When the Global Aggregates Information Network was established this enabled the circulation of international news to the local membership resulting in a better service for members. “A lot of stuff done by AQA is behind the scenes such as dealing with government departments on matters.

This regular communication lets members know we are out there doing stuff and making sure they are well informed on local and international issues.”

For Roger, who was often communicating with members via email or phone, the annual conference, which he helped organised for many years, was a joy as it was an opportunity to see members face to face.

“It was like family. It was very satisfying to hear that people enjoyed a conference and couldn’t wait for the next one.”

Twelve years down the track the most pertinent challenge the industry faces remains the same: “The public and government don’t understand the importance of aggregates. They don’t understand that what quarries produce holds up their house, the roads they drive on etc.

“There needs to be much greater awareness of the importance of aggregates so that the government doesn’t put in place policies that restrict the industry.

“For example in Auckland houses have been built on areas good for extracting aggregate so that most product has to be shipped into the city from outside, which has an environmental as well as economic cost.”

The ageing workforce is another issue: “Young people don’t see the quarry industry as an attractive career proposition yet it is doing some pretty big stuff.”

When asked what advice he would give to the incoming CEO Roger laughs: “I would not dream of giving my replacement any advice apart from enjoy yourself.”

Roger will continue his role as CEO of Rural Contractors New Zealand for the foreseeable future but hints at slowing down. But in the same breath he also says he expects to now be just as busy with other projects. He admits his departure is tinged with sadness.

“I shall miss the role as it’s been a part of my life for so long. I’ll miss the people more than the job – the friendships, the camaraderie will be missed but not forgotten.”