Momentum is building for KPMG

TAMLYN STEWART
Last updated 05:00 11/12/2012
kpmg

STARTING TO HUM: Accountancy firm KPMG was on the third floor of the HSBC tower on Worcester Blvd when the February 22 earthquake hit.

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The building held up well, but it was initially off-limits within the cordoned-off inner city red zone.

Christchurch office managing partner Paul Kiesanowski and staff worked from their kitchen tables for the first 10 days after the quake.

An engineer's inspection deemed the HSBC building safe so Kiesanowski decided the firm would return to its offices ''sooner rather than later'' and decided against signing a long-term lease which was what most commercial landlords were asking for after the earthquake.

Through one of their senior staff members they were able to secure space in the Hoon Hay Presbyterian church hall and were set up there within 10 days. The hall had trestle tables and chairs, a kitchen and toilets. KPMG's IT staff and Telecom set up an internet connection from the street to the hall.

The firm moved back in to its third-floor offices in the HSBC tower on June 13. Staff were given a celebratory morning tea then an updated ''safety evacuation plan'' - before the two aftershocks hit in the afternoon.

The building was evacuated after the initial 5.6 aftershock, but staff moved back into the building two days later with human resources support.

Engineers inspected the building and presented their findings to the staff and their families.

Being settled in one location since then had been key to the firm getting back on its feet and progressing and prospering since then, Kiesanowski said.

''For the team it's been a positive because it was something in their lives that was normal, dependable and steady.

''We were at pains to reassure staff 'you have your jobs'.''

Once the firm was back in its HSBC offices, it ''turned a corner'' in the second half of 2011 and 2012 had been good for the firm.

This year many businesses needed KPMG's services because of the quake rebuild. It advised on issues such as contracting, business services and manufacturing businesses.

''We've seen momentum quietly build in the year,'' Kiesanowski said.

KPMG had about 40 staff at the time of the quake and now had about 50 staff.

''There is a huge number of SME businesses out there having to deal with increasing scale and we are seeing increasingly, businesses need help dealing with increasing scale.

''We've experienced good business growth.

''In a year's time it will be starting to hum.''

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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