Working at Novus - Donna Mcmullon

  10 MAY, 2018      COMPANY UPDATES
Working at Novus - Donna Mcmullon

Novus is a family business owned by the 4th generation of the Seddon family, although we are now a national contractor with over a £140 million turnover, the family values remain.

Here is our second colleague Donna Mcmullon, Personal Assistant to tell us why she loves working at Novus.
 
What is the greatest thing about working in Novus?

People, the internal culture makes the working environment a pleasure to be part of, there is a true sense of family values and coming to work is a pleasure.
 
What has been your greatest achievement?

There are a few, achieving my Business Degree many years ago when I first joined the company. Since then, it has been managing the Investors in Excellence certificate and more recently has been the development of my department and evolving with the company.
 
What has been your most challenging moment?

Presenting to the senior management team about 9 years ago! Although I have a good working relationship with the team, I found it a little daunting stood in front of a table of over 30 board members while delivering the IIE standard!  Humour often helps me get through!
 
What is your most memorable story?

A memorable story was when we ran a customer care campaign to take 3 families to Lapland one Christmas. Terrie Brett and I took these families from 3 different housing associations, having no children of my own back then, it was like taking Ebenezer Scrooge himself!!! While I took care of the practical matters, Terrie entertained the families (and the entire plane) with renditions of Christmas carols over the intercom system!

The joy on their faces was a beautiful moment and I remember them all so clearly. Who would have thought that a company in our industry could deliver such a nice gesture to 3 lucky families!! Priceless!
 
What are you looking forward to in the future?

More of the same quite frankly! Let’s build this empire together, but let’s be happy in doing so

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Being stricter on bad payers

BEING STRICTER ON BAD PAYERS

Neil Washington, Finance Director at contractor Novus Property Solutions, explains how clients and the industry should work harder to enforce better payment practices to strengthen the SME supply chain The obligation on firms to disclose their payment terms came into effect in 2017 but judging by the headlines so far in 2019, many industries are still struggling to meet best practice. The construction industry is not alone, yet the subject of late payments in the sector has very specific ramifications for its long-term health. You can see how the industry got itself into this state. Many of the largest listed contractors operate on extremely tight margins and must satisfy investors in the City. Paying subcontractors promptly can often fall down the list of priorities, either deliberately or not. At Novus we’ve strived to reduce our payment terms because of the issues late payment causes. We now take only 26 days to pay subcontractors on average and this puts us in the top five quickest among the industry’s largest 100 contractors ranked by Construction News, where the average time to pay is 43 days. We don’t have any different accounting methods or invoicing systems, it’s purely in our culture to pay our subcontractors on time. We’re a family-owned business and that plays a part in cultivating values like this. But the construction industry is a varied beast and each contractor has different internal pressures. In some cases, larger contractors will use cash which is due to be paid to their supply chain as working capital and without pressure from clients to change this, it could carry on for a long time. While late payments must now be recorded and published, more could be done to accelerate change. The issues it causes Main contractors and their supply chains have a symbiotic relationship. Paying on time and ensuring that subcontractors can maintain good cashflow means that they will be more likely to accept more work and do a good quality job. It’s also rare that a subcontractor will only be working for just one bad payer at any given time. This can so drastically affect their cashflow that they risk going bust. The industry faces a huge skills shortage and access to labour, particularly specialist skills, is increasingly difficult. Often these skills come from smaller businesses. A weakened supply chain drives up costs and results in longer project timeframes for clients. What can larger contractors and clients do? While most clients stipulate good payment terms when appointing a major contractor, very few follow this up during projects. We’d advocate a review of payment practice statistics as part of the bidding process and spot checks on payments during contract periods to ensure contractors are making good on their promises. It’s clear that public shaming may not be doing enough to push the industry and going against the curve like Novus has done can be difficult, particularly when your competitors aren’t doing much themselves. Direction from clients could initiate a huge change for the benefit of local businesses while reducing long-term construction costs.