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Gold medal's socially responsible practices

Smarter Staff
Smarter Writer

This article has been written by the Smarter Business™ Staff Writers

Smarter Staff
Smarter Writer

This article has been written by the Smarter Business™ Staff Writers

Apprenticeships are built into the foundations of Gold Medal Services, a plumbing service based in Darwin.

Business manager Jackie Maclean says they have employed at least one new apprentice every year since they started in 1996.

“It’s very much a ‘grow your own’ philosophy,” explains Maclean. “In areas such as ours, it’s always been difficult to find good tradespeople. And my husband and his father, who established the business, decided very early on that it was not only a really good way to train people in our environment but it was also a way to give back to the local community by skilling youths and indigenous people.”

The business’ lauded apprenticeship system is just one part of Gold Medal Services’ CSR activities, even though the business has only 12 people on staff.

Jackie Maclean from plumbing services with co-worker in door entrance

Community ties

There’s also a strong focus on environmental sustainability and Maclean is personally involved in numerous community boards and sporting clubs.

“We have many ties to our local community — work placements for school students, sponsoring football and hockey teams, supporting an all-girl fishing competition with Rotary and engagement with local community boards,” she says. “Our business would not survive without the support of the local community so we are keen that the support goes both ways.” 

She adds: “We’re known in the community as people who look after apprentices and have good work practices. I think all those things lead to people coming to knock on our door [for training].” And there’s a business benefit, too.

Our business would not survive without the support of the local community so we are keen that the support goes both ways.

- JACKIE MACLEAN, GOLD MEDAL SERVICES

Go for gold

“Whenever you go for contracts nowadays, people do want to know that you are making a contribution to training and we can demonstrate that really well. It is a value-add that we can give when we put in tenders,” Maclean says. 

The company now has an ongoing contract with Spotless for the Department of Defence and a 90 per cent repeat business rate, a feat recognised when Maclean won the Commonwealth Bank Business Owner of the Year Award for the Northern Territory at the Telstra Women’s Business Awards in 2012.

Maclean and her husband make a point of reaching out to the indigenous community and employing Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people. “I guess we don’t put it out there in lights — but it’s something that we’ve always wanted to do and it’s always been part of who we are, giving opportunities to local indigenous people. “We’ve had some fantastic successes and we’ve had some failures, too. It’s not all easy going! But we’ve given some people a really good start and given them the confidence to go on and do great things.”

A sustainable practice

Gold Medal Services’ environmental initiatives also benefit the business. While it may seem like separating and properly disposing of nuts, bolts and tap fixtures would be a waste of time and resources, Maclean says it’s just the opposite.

“In our trade there’s a lot of waste — copper, brass, all those sorts of things. We get our staff to sort all that. We also do paper recycling, and that money goes to staff events. Not only is it a feel-good thing, but it has some financial incentives, too. Just in our brass and copper, we earn in excess of $10,000 a year.”

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