Company goes with the flow
As a hydrologist, Dave Boraman has played a key role after the South Canterbury floods of 1986 and the collapse of the Opuha Dam. Business reporter Emma Bailey asks him about his work and the creation of his business Boraman Consultants.
What sort of work does Boraman Consultants do?
Our core business is irrigation monitoring. We co-ordinate the installation of flow meters and telemetry units. These automatically send information back to our servers which compare the irrigators' information with their resource consent. If they are exceeding their permitted take the system lets them know, similarly if they pump from a river and the river goes on restriction, they are automatically notified. All the information is collated and reported to ECan on a regular basis. We also get involved in investigations for resource consents, we will collect information from a catchment and provide hydrology information for the applicant.
Where did you do your training?
I was very fortunate. I was one of the last people through a cadetship-type programme at the former South Canterbury Catchment Board. This was a great system where you worked while you studied. The board had many different departments so you could work in the one related to your subjects that year. The hands-on approach certainly gave you a better feel for the theory. All of my studies were carried out extramurally through NZQA and the Central Institute of Technology in Upper Hutt.
Where have you worked previously?
I started with the catchment board in 1986 as a junior hydrology technician, my role was to re-establish hydrology sites devastated in the floods of that year.
In 1989 the catchment board was restructured and I was employed by the Canterbury Regional Council until 1997. Not long after the Opuha Dam fell over. I was employed by Environmental Consultancy Services as a field hydrologist to take care of the monitoring related to the dam.
Could you work for another person again?
Absolutely, I am doing it every day. I'm just having a bit of say when it happens.
What are the toughest aspects of owning your own business?
Managing your time, it is a learned process. I think everybody starting out in business goes through it. The first couple of years you want to give your all to ensure your business succeeds, so long hours and time away from family. Giving up weekends to meet deadlines. Certainly once you start employing staff, you start getting your life back.
What have been the challenges?
The downturn in 2009 and 2010 put a damper on things, as our work is regulated. We had many of our clients indicating to reduce the amount we did for them. It was difficult to meet our required standards with reduced hours. During those years the financial side of it was never far from your mind.
What have been the highlights?
A couple of things stand out. The mentoring side of running a business and developing our staff into well skilled individuals and in many aspects learning from them.
Secondly, I enjoy the younger team members ticking off their bucket list. Things like first car, first house, getting married, etc. It's reassuring that the business succeeds because of them, and they succeed because of the business.
How many staff do you employ?
We have been working with six employees for the past eight months, It is a good number, we are lucky we have a good crew. I think any more than that and I would be a fulltime manager. I still love getting out in the field and being involved.
How many hours a week do you work?
It changes with seasons. During the irrigation season we step up a little. A usual week would be 40-50 hours
Where to from here?
We are in a period of very strong growth, mostly due to a National Environment Standard for water metering. We are more than busy enough with the work the standard has generated. As our work is taking us further afield we are looking at setting up another office in a different region.
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