Meet the team: Introducing Dave Groves, WA Service Manager
Originally from the UK, Dave Groves always dreamed of emigrating to Australia and working with a broader range of customers including mining, oil and gas companies. At Wormald, he has been able to fulfil both goals.
How did you start working for Wormald? Tell us about your background
I had always dreamed of emigrating to Australia with my family. Having studied electronics and gaining 10 years fire industry experience installing fire alarms across both large and small sites, it made sense for me to apply for a role overseas.
A week before I was due to fly out, I sent my CV to Wormald’s installation manager in Western Australia. I had several years of experience working in the UK’s fire industry as an installer and he was keen to meet when I arrived in Perth. The funny thing was, the job the installations manager had in mind was a role in the North West of Australia – 8 on 1 off – I thought he meant days but in fact he meant weeks!
With a young family joining me in Australia, the FIFO working arrangement would not have worked, however, Bob Preedy our General Manager was able to find me a role in the Perth Service department and I never looked back.
Explain your current role and responsibilities
My first role was in Wormald’s service division was as a technician where I got to work on a diverse range of projects. For instance, I had always wanted to work on rigs and was lucky enough to be able to do this in Australia.
Currently I’m the WA service manager responsible for the Wormald service business which includes Perth and Karratha in the North-West. My role includes managing all facets of fire protection, such as sprinklers, FE, passive fire, fire alarms and testing.
What do you enjoy about working at Wormald?
I appreciate many things at Wormald but there’s a few that stand out – our people and our loyal customers to name but a few.
Wormald is fast becoming an employer of choice and is a name synonymous with the Australian fire industry; the fact that there are three of the Groves family employed at Wormald is testament to this!
I enjoy the diverse range of projects we get involved with and having the opportunity to work on things you would not normally see. For instance, I’ve worked on oil and gas platforms, helicopter hangers, remote islands, communities, military bases and general areas that the public would never get to see.
The role has also allowed me to help build a team of skilled employees and watch them grow and develop over time. It’s rewarding to nurture people’s growth within the business and watch them succeed.
What do you find most interesting about the fire protection industry?
There are so many interesting things, where do I start!?
I once had a call out to a cattle ship in Broome which was a memorable experience. The ship couldn’t leave the port until the fire alarm system was working. We were flown first-class to Broome and picked up by the shipping agent who took us to the boat. When we got up to the bridge, we met with the ship’s captain who was trying to work out what was wrong. He was using a screwdriver to unscrew a 4-inch screw from the panel door, as he was unscrewing it, the fault cleared. All that was needed was for the screw to be cut down and once we did that the fault cleared. The issue was the long screw they had used to keep the panel door shut was touching the circuit board in the back of the panel and shorting out. It was a simple fix and despite all the effort to get to the ship, I think this story sums up our commitment to customers.
Due to the sheer size of Western Australia, we sometimes travel to jobs via charter plane and helicopters, we visit remote islands, gas hubs, mine sites and remote communities. The resources sector is also very important to our economy and we find ourselves doing a lot of unique one-off jobs in this space.
What is the most challenging aspect of your role?
There are a lot of challenges in a role like mine but one of the hardest things is retaining staff, it’s so important to keep developing their growth. Managing customer expectations can also be challenging but I think we do a good job at both.
What you put in is what you get out and when our staff go the extra mile they are rewarded. We are a family style business here at Wormald and our senior leadership team give their time and expertise to help others, in return this fosters loyalty and they excel in their work. We look after our employees and acknowledge their efforts.
What trends or issues are you seeing in the fire industry today?
Since COVID-19, travel restrictions are impacting many business sectors. A big selling point for Wormald at the moment is our residential workforce based in Karratha. Wormald has a large remote footprint with boots on the ground in all regional areas and this has been a blessing for our business in these challenging times as we always have someone to assist in an emergency.
There has also been a proliferation of smaller businesses starting up which has resulted in the need for our business to remain competitive and fluid in its strategy. We keep our pricing competitive and are proud of the history we have with some of our long-term customers. Our returning customers always say to us ‘you get what you pay for’ and acknowledge our team of technicians as being the best in the business. We’re proud of our team, some of whom have been working for Wormald for over 40 years.
Tell us a little bit about yourself – what do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
In my spare time I love going to the gym and for a run, you will often find me on a camping trip with the family. My four kids and I love travelling and getting out and about to see the countryside as much as possible. Compared to living in the UK, Australia can sometimes feel like a holiday!