Meet Independent Traffic Control
In 2004 Teruarau ‘Rau’ Tangiiti (Rarotongan) started working as a traffic management sole trader from his home office. He bought a second-hand truck, and the rumour around the office is he was also prone to putting out traffic cones from the back of his Honda Prelude.
Six years later he had grown the business to 20 employees and his brother Kelvin joined him in management. 2010 became a pivotal year for Independent Traffic Control (iTraffic) as it also saw Rau’s friends, Glen Harding-Ruma (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Whātua, Ngāti Kahungunu) who worked in change management, and accountant Piri Kake (Ngāpuhi) return from the UK in search of work.
“After the global financial crisis everyone was thinning their payrolls,” remembers Piri, “I couldn’t get a job as an accountant because I had too much experience so I got a job working on the roads.”
Both men took up roles with the company and the experience helped them to understand the fundamentals of the business. A year later, Piri moved off the road and into the office with Glen, joining him as a company director. Using their experience they helped improve operations, finance and human resources, while also implementing new systems. It allowed iTraffic to begin bidding for some of the bigger jobs, to much success. Today the business boasts four directors, 185 staff, three on-site mechanics, 96 fleet vehicles and six branches across Whangarei, Silverdale, Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington and Christchurch. They also operate a sister company, iConstruct, which adds additional services within the civil construction industry.
“We offer a full service from traffic management and design, to equipment hire, training and, the implementation of safe traffic management,” says Glen. “Our job is safety and we are serious about that, right from the recruitment and training of our staff, through to our systems and innovation.”
The company is made up of approximately 90% Māori and Pasifika staff and Glen is particularly proud that they currently have more female employees than ever before.
With a loyal staff base and high retention rate, iTraffic invests strongly in the development of their team.
“We realised very early on that there was no ‘ideal’ employee for the roles we have here. We have a real mix of ages and experiences,” adds Glen. “We often recruit people from factories who don’t want to be stuck inside doing one job their entire life. We’ve got young guys getting into the workforce, to older staff looking for a life change and professional development opportunities.”
And opportunities are a plenty. “While we have improved our vehicles for better efficiency and streamlined processes for better client relationships, our greatest investment is in training for our people.”
Running their own training centre is an investment in their business and the wider industry, offering internal and external training opportunities.
For their own team, staff go through an induction with iTraffic’s clients and undertake practical training before getting on the road. They also have the option to participate in goal setting workshops; from career, pathways to finance and literacy, and there are opportunities for leadership training and upskilling. The company also supports staff to obtain driver licenses; from full licenses for motor vehicles through to Class 2 truck licenses.
Working with Limited Service Volunteer Course, a life skills programme run by the NZ Defence Force, iTraffic also provides support and training to young people aged 18-25 years, offering a stepping- stone programme.
“We have people come to us who have career aspirations to be in the New Zealand Police. Working with us for 2-3 years, they are able to go through different levels of management, gain job experience working in a diverse team and learn to deal with conflict on the job through working in what can sometimes be a tense space, interrupting daily commutes for public.”
The investment is proving successful as each year revenue has grown 15-20 percent.
On average the team take on 900 jobs a month with 15 percent fixed work over the year. They are looking to grow this fixed work rate to 80 percent.
By prioritising punctuality and work ethic, using new innovations in communication for better service delivery and reporting, and utilising on-site mechanics for fast turnaround on maintenance and repair of the fleet, the goal is possible.
“At the end of the day, we want all our people to realise their dreams and, in return, we get a great employee joining our team.” “It’s a give-and-take relationship.”
“Everyday we are measuring ourselves, our work, our output and our client satisfaction,” says Glen. “Our communication technology means our clients can see what we have done each day, and it doesn’t get lost in a pile of paper somewhere. These tools keep us ahead in this competitive market.” The non-price attributes of iTraffic also keep them ahead of their competitors. “What drives us is looking after our team, we are a family. Our success is their success.”