Re-laying strong foundation on a model of trust and quality
ACRA (The Australian Concrete Repair Association) was formed in 1989 as a way of answering a call from industry and stakeholders to maintain high industry standards and to introduce a method in which those operating in the concrete repair industry could be held to these standards.
Peter Johnsson, current President of ACRA, says that the industry is dependent on providing good services and quality work.
“When we started out there was no standard how-to on concrete repair, or industry standards,” he states. “We were formed in the early 1990s to promote the services of its members in what was – at the time – an industry in its infancy. The key drivers were establishing a bench mark of quality and good services and advice at a time when the opposite was occurring.”
Some of these problems they faced then still exist, but with the creation of their Code of Ethics and having membership hinging on compliance to the code, ACRA has been able to raise the quality of work being done in Australia. “There are always cheaper, and less experienced companies out there who can under price on the jobs but many of those companies do not offer the same quality of work our members do.” Awareness, he says, is part of the solution to this problem. The Code of Ethics specifies exactly how members should operate when they are dealing with their clients, with clear repercussions for those dealing in ways deemed not in accordance with the stipulations of the Code. When a client comes to an ACRA member they know they are getting access to some of the best people and key technical knowledge in the industry.
Another benefit of membership is the exposure that ACRA can provide. “We are given the opportunity to speak on behalf of our members,” says Johnsson. “This often results in increased inquiries and a kind of cross-pollination of ideas and technologies.” This allows their members to work together in order to provide the best solutions for a client’s needs, often he says, at considerable savings for that said client.
Education as the message
Now that customers have become more aware of their national presence, they have been able to improve on the finished products that have been completed throughout the Australian marketplace. “The quality of work has obviously improved since the 1990s and now 20-years down the line we have come along in leaps and bounds, we now have more than 30 members contributing to our collective success,” says Johnsson.
In this 20-year journey they have seen the advent of new technologies that has helped them extend the life of the projects they undertake; it is these technologies that ACRA encourages its members to adopt and provide the support they might need in making transitions to new techniques. “The longevity of the concrete projects we work on has been extended by the development of commercially viable products based on an in depth scientific understanding of the processes and mechanisms responsible for the deterioration of concrete. The science may have been around a long-long time, but making it work commercially took a bit of time.” It is through the collective experience and skills of their members and their links to international knowledge and experience that they have been able to accomplish this.
Another initiative that they took on was the publication of a “how-to” book published by SAI Global, the Guide to Concrete Repair and Protection. “It’s not a complicated standard – but it is a concise, in-depth, how-to and why for concrete repair and protection. It also shows you how to investigate, diagnose and undertake repairs in a technically appropriate manner,” says Johnsson. “We brought together our members and developed the guide, and this has formed the basis of the association and allowed us to trade on our good name,” says Johnsson. The guide lays out some of the common tasks and procedures that are utilised in the industry, he says, all of it is set out in plain language and is easy to comprehend, something it has been recognised for internationally.
Along with this guide, this year they have launched a new one-day course of the same title that at first will allow both members and non-members to train their staff or hone their existing skills. The first course was run in March after almost a year in development. It is currently open to the public with the next course due to be run in the 1st June followed by other regional and state capitals, so that those interested can also participate in the course and gain both insight into the industry and learn industry tips and tricks from the collective membership of ACRA. Education is one of the many channels that they have taken advantage of by interfacing with students and interested parties. “We often pitch to Universities and show students the opportunities this industry has to offer,” says Johnsson. He also encourages interested parties to examine the materials available on their website and consider signing up for their new course.
Membership in ACRA is contingent on passing stringent criteria set by the association, not simply by paying a fee. “It’s about training, experience and quality, we are a not-for-profit organisation and we look to serve our members as best we can.”