CQ brickie burnt by building firm collapses demands action
OVER the past year, Yeppoon-based subbie Ben Hawkes has been burnt multiple times by company collapses and he says it's now getting beyond a joke.
Owner and director of CQ Brick and Blocklaying since he founded it nine years ago, Mr Hawkes said they had a "key role" working closely with JM Kelly on an estimated 50 to 100 projects since 2014.
At the time of JM Kelly's collapse, CQ Brick and Blocklaying had dedicated three months of time and resources into the Aldi site, having pumped a lot of concrete and commenced the brick and block work.
Mr Hawkes said his small company was out of pocket for approximately $55,000 - money he didn't think he'd ever see given that he was "too low on the food chain" with larger companies owed more money expected to be paid first.
"It was pretty troubling, I had to let go three or four workers just because I couldn't afford to pay anyone because all my money was all tied up on that Aldi job," Mr Hawkes said.
"It's taken a bit of a toll and it will probably be a big toll this year, (we're) still getting over it.
"We got to finish off the block laying, doesn't take into account the $50,000 taken off us."
He said JM Kelly's collapse took its toll, not just on his business but also his family.
"It's been stressful, it's taken a big toll on me and my wife who does a lot of our bookkeeping, trying to find that money back," he said.
"It made my holidays a bit depressing, but I was lucky I picked up a few jobs out of town that kept me going.
"If I didn't pick them up, it would have been pretty sad."
Mr Hawkes said JM Kelly's collapse was one of several to impact upon his business over the past year including the collapse of Metro builders, which cost him $15,000 and Yeppoon's MVH group, which also left him short several thousand dollars.
"I'd like to see the government step up and do something about it, it's happening too often, it's getting beyond a joke now," he said.
The dire situation was one of the reasons why Mr Hawkes believed the suicide rate was so high in the construction industry.
"There's no law that says people can get their money," he said. "The companies are too big and we can't touch them, you try and take them to court and they just bury you.
He was willing to pay an insurance fee to ensure subcontractors got paid.