Bowens - The Builders Choice

An Interview with Ben Carr

Bowens caught up with Brand Ambassador Ben Carr, owner and builder of BILTAR, to provide insight into how he converted his carpentry business into a high-end luxury home-building company.

Motivated by a strong ambition to build dream homes, Ben’s secret to success lies in his trust in others, as he manages his team of 14 employees.

How did you transform BILTAR into the successful building company it is today?

I’ve got a business coach and the main thing I learned from them was that you need to structure your business so you can get off the tools and work on building your business for strategic growth.

The first step is getting your admin organised. Once your administrative tasks are in order, you can start to organise foremen, worksite supervisors and other manager positions who can take care of your worksites on the ground level.

As you build your team and allocate different levels of responsibility, you can dedicate a large amount of time to other areas of the business which will build long-term growth. Right now, we are looking at how marketing, finance and other departments can be improved, which will help us grow.

This model has enabled our team to transition out of volume framing into high-end luxury homes. I delegate roles and instil trust in my team which results in quality builds and better team culture. This has allowed for a holistic view of what is happening with my team and creates space for further interaction with me and team members on site.

“I delegate roles and instil trust in my team which results in quality builds and better team culture.”

What sort of impact has Instagram had on your business?

Instagram has been a great platform for promoting our business, as well as getting new chippies on board. We have had plenty of guys see the work we are doing and enquire through the Instagram page (@biltar_). A lot of the detailed work we do appeals to carpenters who have been in the trade for a while and are looking for something new. Some of the guys we have got on board have been builders who have closed their own businesses and decided to work for us. Many of them noticed a shift in the industry and saw an opportunity to work in high-end luxury homes, without the liability of running a business.

“A lot of the detailed work we do appeals to carpenters who have been in the trade for a while and are looking for something new.”

One bloke is driving down from Canberra to work for us on Monday. He has been wanting to work with us for a year, but we initially weren’t in a position to hire.

How do you manage your team?

We try to find what motivates our team most and assign them to a role that suits them best. There is no point in making someone do something they don’t value.

Over time they will just resent the work and not do a good job.

If someone just loves being a chippy, we will give them chippy work. If someone likes to manage, then we will find a role where they can manage. If someone finds that they can have hard conversations with others, we will find a path where they can excel at that.

“If someone likes to manage, then we will find a role where they can manage. If someone finds that they can have hard conversations with others, we will find a path where they can excel at that.”

One of our site foreman’s dad comes to work with us as a sub-contractor because he loves all the fiddly detail work, and it is something he is great at. If we got him doing the heavy framing work, it just wouldn’t be an effective use of his time. So it is about finding the right path for each person.

How would you summarise your management style?

One of the most important roles of a manager is delegation. This involves delegating a task, placing trust in that person, and then following up. People can delegate tasks and they can turn into mistakes, and they just start blaming that person, when it’s actually not that person’s fault, people are allowed to make mistakes. It is the responsibility of the leader to then ensure the person learns from their mistakes so that they can grow and improve in the future.

“It is the responsibility of the leader to then ensure the person learns from their mistakes so that they can grow and improve in the future.”

You can look at any business and find that the person that runs it and their energy is typically the energy that flows through the business. For that reason, I try to place as much trust in my team as I can, so they can trust each other, and everyone can learn and grow.

I am a firm believer that there is a benefit to every mistake, as long as someone can learn from it. Even if it is a costly mistake, such as incorrect estimations, or the detailing was incorrect, I place trust that the person who made the mistake will learn from that error and ensure it won’t happen next time.

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