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Sitting down with our CEO Mike Buckley

Michael Buckley joined Tubman Heating Limited in September 2021, in the first stage of Auckland’s longest lockdown. After 3 months of virtual meetings with his new team, customers and suppliers, Mike is now able to meet one on one with the virtual faces he has come to know. We chat to Mike about his work experience, lockdown’s and goals for THL.

1. Tell us a bit about yourself?

I live and work on the North Shore of Auckland with my wife and two primary school-aged children that keep both my wife and me on our toes. I grew up in Canterbury, so follow the Crusaders and All Blacks rugby teams, please don’t hold that against me! I moved away from Christchurch over 25 years ago but still call it home. I have a long history of employment with specialist trade companies, spending 20 years working both in New Zealand and overseas for a fire protection company. One of the things you learn when travelling is you need to be agile, and your management style needs to be flexible due to ethnic and cultural diversities within your workforce. For anyone who is looking to advance their careers; working and living overseas provides an opportunity to learn new and interesting ways of managing a workforce and helps to make you a well-rounded manager of people.

2. Why did you join THL?

Tubman Heating offered a great opportunity for me to take the next step in my career. Having total accountability for a business was both scary and exciting at the same time. I had previously worked alongside Tubman Heating while working at Ventia and the culture and the way the two directors, Chris and Jim, managed the business was a great fit for me. Also moving back into a specialist trade industry felt like the most logical thing to do.

3. What do you feel is THL’s biggest strength right now?

Tubman Heating has a depth of knowledge that is second to none in the boiler industry. This team really knows its stuff. We have good solid processes in place and have Telarc ISO9001 quality and 5 Star Prequal H&S certification as recognition of our success. We have many products that we source directly from internationally recognised manufacturers but also good local knowledge to ensure we comply with all New Zealand standards for installation, servicing and maintenance. One of the key advantages that I see from Tubman Heating is the commitment to our customers and the drive to move clients from a reactive maintenance mindset to a planned preventative mindset.

Another strength within Tubman Heating is the respect and inclusion of the staff that work for us by our managers and directors. The directors care for the Tubman Heating team and see them as an extension of their own family. It is refreshing to have directors who truly care for the well-being of all our staff.

4. What is your goal for THL?

One of the challenging aspects of taking over a successful business is, “where to from here?” The key to any successful business is having a plan and working closely with the directors on agreed goals and a shared vision for the business. Over the last three months, the directors and I have been working on a strategy for the future, including looking at new technology that will move our industry away from reliance on fossil fuels to replacement fuels including hydrogen, wood pellet, bio and electrical sources of energy. Tubman Heating as a responsible corporate citizen is looking at its carbon footprint and has started down the path of leasing hybrid and electric vehicles. We also recently replaced our Auckland LPG forklift with a new electric forklift. Our goal over the next 3 years is, where possible, to move our fleet to electric vehicles and our customers away from fossil fuels.

Health and Safety is always at the front of mind. We are continuously developing ways to make it easier for our teams in the field to log and report safety interactions. The boiler industry is surrounded by hazards including gas, pressurised vessels, electricity and heat. We always need to be vigilant and continually improve our health and safety culture so that everyone goes home safely.

Our growth over the last number of years has been significant and through both organic and acquisitions, we will look to continue this growth in the coming years.

5. How has the lockdown in Auckland and Waikato affected THL?

One of the most challenging aspects of taking over running Tubman Heating was that I started this role on the 1st of September, right in the middle of a lockdown. Key to running any business is understanding your staff and what motivates them. This was challenging from in front of a computer screen. Through regular catch-up conversations over MS Teams and phone calls, I now have a good understanding of the team and how they operate. During level 4 Auckland was very quiet and our revenue numbers were significantly lower than forecast, this was not unexpected. During level 3 in both Auckland and Waikato, we had customers requesting maintenance and project works which helped us through. One of the advantages of having multiple branch locations is that although our Auckland business was slower than normal our Wellington and Waikato businesses have continued to operate as normal reducing the impact of the lockdown to some extent.

It was wonderful to gain insight into what motivates our CEO and we look forward to working with Mike to develop Tubman Heating Limited throughout New Zealand.