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Community engagement good for all

Community engagement good for all
Mimico Awards judge, Dr Morgan Williams, left, discusses the entry from Simcox Construction in Marlborough with general manager Antony Clark and Simcox board chair Russell Hopkins.

Simcox Construction general manager, Antony Clark, admits they weren’t sure they were doing anything particularly different when they decided to enter the Mimico Environmental Aw ards.

“We never thought we were doing anything special or clever. We were just quietly getting on with things, we didn’t want to shout about it, but thought we’d see where we sat in the industry,” says Antony.

Based in Marlborough, Simcox Construction is a family-owned and operated business that has been working in the local region for over 30 years.

The company has been operating a quarry for over a decade. It is the efforts of the company to engage with the local community and improve the social environment of the area that has seen it named an award winner.

Antony says the company’s efforts started as they noticed a safety issue with young children biking to school along busy roads and offered to donate safety high viz vests to local schools.

This led to the company also providing vests for school road patrols and metal for a cycle track at one of the local schools in partnership with local council so kids can practice their bike skills in safety and helped with an adventure playground area.

They have also been involved with the Marlborough Kids Duathalon providing road cones and other safety items to mark out the course.

Other initiatives include sealing the last four kilometres of road to the quarry to mitigate dust.

As Antony is involved in the local cycling group he was happy to see the road quickly enjoyed by cyclists and it is regularly used for cycling events at weekends when there are no truck movements.

Trail bike events take place within the quarry, creating a secure site for such activities with little noise impact.
He says engaging more closely with the community is a policy that has paid dividends and has benefitted both Simcox and residents.

“We’ve been able to demonstrate responsible corporate behaviour and by reaching out to them we’re not just a faceless entity,” says Antony.

“By fronting up and being ‘known’ we can dispel some of the myths and misunderstandings and take on their concerns and amend our behaviour before anything becomes a problem.

“For example when we went for our last resource consent some residents didn’t want us carting on a certain link road.

But the effect was that we had to cart on a route that took us back past this area anyway when the consent was
granted.

It didn’t make sense for either of us and created an issue neither of us had anticipated so by engaging with each other next time we go to resource consent we can both get as close to what we both want without conflict,” he says.

“A lot of problems disappear when you are talking about them and it’s already created better feeling.”

He says the quarry has also been able to support residents on issues specifically affecting residents but nothing to do with the quarry.

For example when farmers appealed against a council stock droving policy the company was able to support farmers in saying that Simcox, who also regularly use the same road, had not found stock to
be a problem and did not consider tighter controls necessary.

“We’ve really tried hard to engage with the residents. It’s about working together as a community on issues rather than being at loggerheads. It’s recognising we can all get along.”

Antony says that quarrying is vital to the region. For example wineries scream out for aggregate during wet weather and he feels by entering the Mimico awards it has further raised the profile of the business.

“It’s recognition of our industry and practices. We recognise that quarries are not seen as the rock stars but we are a crucial infrastructural asset for the district.”

He says winning has given the business confirmation it is on the right track and been a good boost for staff. It has also given business partners confidence in Simcox.

“We’re incredibly proud of the award. It’s conviction that what we are doing is right.

Being recognised by our industry and peers adds verification to the local community that we are doing good things.

It’s important as a little player in the market to show we can do good things. We are operating as responsibly as the big boys are.”

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