1 September 2009
One-on-one with Executive Officer of National Precast Concrete Association Australia, Sarah Bachmann.
How long have you been Executive Officer of the National Precast Concrete Association?
Since December 2003, so almost 6 years. It has gone so fast, but that’s what happens when you enjoy your job. The precast industry is a wonderful industry and once you are in, you get hooked and there is no turning back!
How did you get into the precast concrete industry?
Before joining National Precast, my most recent roles had been in marketing and public relations management in a Sydney construction company and before that with the Housing Industry Association. I had run smaller industry associations years ago in Adelaide before the move to Sydney, but in completely different industries. The opportunity to run a larger association whose members supplied the construction industry was one I jumped at. And the Association was looking for someone who had both construction industry experience, with a strong marketing background.
What is the aim of National Precast?
National Precast was established by a small group of precast manufacturers about 19 years ago. Our members manufacture high quality factory-made precast concrete elements, like walling, flooring, structural and civil elements. Our mission is to be the recognised agency of the Australian precast concrete industry, promoting and representing manufacturers of high quality, factory-made precast concrete components and promoting precast as the material of choice to the building and civil construction industries. We do this by:
• Promoting members’ products through the website, publications and exhibitions;
• Representing the industry to government and other bodies;
• Participating in technical activities such as development of Australian Standards and other specifications;
• Providing technical advice to specifiers and users;
• Conducting training events;
• Providing resources to tertiary education institutions;
• Promoting best practice in product design, manufacture and OHS;
• Sourcing and disseminating new industry information; and
• Providing networking and learning opportunities for members.
What are your plans (both short-term and long-term) for the association?
Some of my plans for the association have already come into fruition, while others have not yet. When I first started with the association we were not running seminars, we were not involved in exhibitions, and we did not have a consistent corporate image. When I started my priorities were to establish the National Precast brand in the market place and to develop the range of products on services that we offer to specifiers and users of precast.
We have come a long way in five and a half years. Our turnover has roughly doubled and our activity level has increased significantly. In that time some of the new initiatives have included:
• Developed (and now present around Australia) a one day seminar for engineers;
• Established involvement in the major national construction industry exhibitions (Designbuild and Form & Function);
• Run seminars at these major exhibitions for architects, engineers and builders;
• Established ourselves as the major supporting organisation for ICCX Oceania, the International Concrete Conference & Exhibition, held for the first time in Sydney in April 2009;
• Rebranded ourselves as National Precast and redesigned and rewritten our corporate collateral;
• Become the first supporting organisation of the BPN Sustainability Awards;
• Been appointed to the Editorial Advisory Board of Award Magazine, incorporating National Precast Association Corner editorial and member projects in every issue;
• Developed a Supply Contract for exclusive use by National Precast Members only;
• Established a Benchmarking Survey for our members;
• Identified our ‘reason for being’ by signing off on our Mission Statement;
• Received Enterprise Connect funding and run 6 seminars to assist Members and raise the Association’s profile;
• Run advertising campaigns, promoting Members and precast in industry publications;
• Redeveloped our website;
• Expanded the circulation of our quarterly publication National Precaster, to 70,000 engineers, architects, builders and developers;
• Held 4 Members’ Meetings every year, which now include Members’ Education and factory visits;
• Continued to sell the Precast Concrete Handbook and other publications;
• Continued our active representation on 10 Australian Standards and Code Committees, to protect and promote the industry’s interests.
This association has so much potential. I have so many other ideas, and there are many other projects on the boil. The Board is committed to allocating appropriate resources to make these happen. It’s an exciting time for the industry, which is enjoying a growing market share, and for its association. Watch this space…
What has been your career highlight to date?
Certainly what I have been able to do over the last five and a half years (in conjunction with the National Precast Board) has been fantastic. To be given the trust and freedom to lead the growth of the association would have to be right up there.
Beyond that, some of my most memorable career highlights are from many years ago during my employment with the South Australian Employers’ Federation. Being appointed Director of Statewide Superannuation Trust, being nominated for the Queen Elizabeth II Forum for Young Australians many years ago, and representing the employer movement in SA to the media - all at a relatively young age, have to be highlights.
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