DVML in staff shake-up

Terry Davies
Terry Davies
Dunedin Venues Management Ltd is shedding six staff - but recruiting four more - as part of a push to sharpen its commercial focus, chief executive Terry Davies says.

Mr Davies told the Otago Daily Times the restructure was designed to shift the company running Forsyth Barr Stadium from a start-up business, focused on operational issues, to one that was more commercially driven.''

It's really been a start-up business that's never really taken stock of where it's at,'' he said.''

I've had to bite the bullet on that one.''

As part of the restructure, DVML finance manager Neville Frost's role would be disestablished in October, with his work handled in future by the Dunedin City Council's finance department, Mr Davies said.

The change had been ''on the cards for a long time'', but it made sense to transfer DVML's accounting processes to the council.''

They're the owner. They've got resources there.''

DVML's events and functions manager, Ruth Mackenzie-White, would also lose her job at the end of this week - 18 months after being appointed - as the role was to change, Mr Davies said.

Ms Mackenzie-White had been ''great'' at managing events at the Dunedin Centre, but had missed out on the new role, which would be more focused on events acquisition, he said.

Other roles to be disestablished within DVML were those of technical operations and maintenance manager, venue services officer, sales executive (advertising) and commercial sales manager.

Of the six staff affected by the changes, only two had applied for new roles, and only one had been successful.

In addition, the company's part-time contract with former commercial manager Guy Hedderwick ended earlier this year, bringing the number of staff affected by recent changes to seven.

In their place, the restructure has created five new roles, including that of business development manager and marketing analyst, designed to help lift the performance of the business.

The changes were being staggered over the next few months, with some roles still being advertised, but would reduce DVML's overall staff count from 27 to 25.

Details of the overhaul emerged just months after Mr Davies began work as DVML's chief executive in March, following in the footsteps of predecessors David Davies and Darren Burden.

He arrived needing to grapple with forecast losses totalling $3.34 million over the next three years, and the uncertainty of the council's ongoing and wide-ranging review of the stadium model, which was due to be completed next month.

Mr Davies said the restructure aimed to help lift profitability, allowing the company to reinvest in itself and ease the pressure on ratepayers.

He did not know what the results of the council's review would be, but could not wait for the outcome before making required changes.

''At the end of the day, what we've got to do is get on with business.''


Company changes
 •Six roles disestablished; five staff going and one being retained.

 •Departing staff include DVML finance manager Neville Frost and events and functions manager Ruth Mackenzie-White.

 •DVML accounting processes to be transferred to Dunedin City Council finance department.

 •Aim to shift DVML from operational to commercial focus.

 •Five new roles being created, including business development manager and marketing analyst.

 •Four new staff to be recruited.

 •Changes to reduce DVML's overall staff count from 27 to 25.

 •Results of DCC's wider stadium review expected next month.

 

chris.morris@odt.co.nz

Too many chiefs

I think that DVML's problems are in part a case of too-many-chiefs syndrome - if you look at their web page they recently removed their list of employees because, well it was embarrassing - fortunately the internet never forgets - as you can see those 27 employees included 10 managers or directors, and two executive assistants - pruning over half of the management staff and their support has been long overdue.

Russell points out that the ratepayers are currently sudsidising the ORFU in a way that the DVML CEO Mr Davies#1 once said would "enrage part  of the community" if they ever found out the details - it's way past time time we gave up subsidising rugby, had them grow up and fend for themselves. That would get rid of another layer of DVML that we currently have to pay for.

The Trojan Horse inside DVML

Lynden and Jimmy Jones ask really legitimate questions that have gone unanswered by those in charge of DVML.  Just what do some of these people at DVML do?  The answer has already been provided by past CEO's of DVML and past bosses of the ORFU.  The answer is that many of the functions of the ORFU are now carried out by staff employed by the DVML and paid for by ratepayers.  Just why this parasitic operation continues is hard to fathom and equally difficult to understand is just why ratepayers continue to put up with the concept of the City funding a commercial operation.  It was not all that long ago that the ORFU was screaming poverty after their venture into owning 3 Auckland pubs went pear-shaped and part of the way out of that fiasco was to get some of their staff employed by the City.  Not at all a new strategy, but just why the City ratepayers put up with this is hard to understand.  Maybe they haven't been fully informed of the extent of the Trojan Horse?

Staff

This isn't just stadium staff, it's DVML - in other words all the venues DVML manages. However, I would like to know what each job actually entails, not just the titles and brief descriptions you usually get. 

27 DVML staff: What on earth do they all do?

Trev asks why does DVML has so many staff to do so little. Part of the explanation is that they are wasteful, poorly managed, poorly monitored and have learned that the DCC ratepayers will pay for whatever they want. The other part of the explanation is that a big chunk of its staff work for the Otago Rugby Football Union; paid for by ratepayers but working for the benefit of rugby, not the city.

So why are we subsidizing the ORFU? The answer remains a mystery. This started at the end of 2011 and still there has been no explanation from Mayor Cull or the DCC CEO. Stadium related expenses cost the city over $20 million each year. After CEO Bidrose's restructuring it will cost exactly the same, but some of those costs will be hidden; not gone, just invisible. An obvious way to make a real difference to these huge costs is to stop subsidizing the ORFU by paying for their staff. Read about it »HERE«.

 

What did it cost?

Was there any cost associated with "losing" 6 staff?  By cost I mean more than their wages for the time they worked, plus any holiday pay they were due.

Was there any cost involved in hiring 4 new staff?  I mean, was a recruitment company used? Were background checks on the applicants undertaken by someone outside the DCC? Was there wide advertising that had to be paid for or were they appointed from people who had sent their CVs or cold-called recently looking for work?  Are there costs associated with familiarising them with the processes and fellow employees of DVML?  Was it necessary for the appointee who had previously been working for DVML to participate in that?

What tasks or procedures that required 7 employees are now not being done, and when was it found that these duties were unnecessary?  What new tasks and procedures now necessitate the employment of 6 people to carry them out adequately? 

I have a twinge in my psychic elbow that suggests there has been change that is not cost-neutral, for all that it gives the appearance that one of DCC's money-gobbling sections can claim Something Is Being Done. 

It's ridiculous

Ye gods! 27 staff? What on earth do they all do? As an international maintenance engineering consultant of many years, I cannot see the need in such a static venue for more then say 2 maintenance staff. A m,anager and a typist. All the rest of the work could be done as and when required by contractors. So what do all 27 do? Titles are bestowed to hide what staff actually do so how about some honesty here - who does what?  

Higher mathematics

I was never too flash at maths but........

27 existing staff less 6 staff being shed equals 21 left.
1 of those being reassigned equals 22.
4 new staff members equals 26.

Am I wrong?  There are 5 new roles to replace the 6?

 

I can run it for a quarter of the loss

Here is a thought, I could run the show for 1/4 of the loss. I will get rid of DVML, and simply employ myself and do nothing, take 1/4 of the current annual loss as my salary as reward for saving the ratepayer the other 3/4 of the current loss. So easy, come on DCC give me a go, my financial plan is sound/ I am not promising miracles, just a reduction of the loss by 75%. Surely this is better than Mr Davies' mob.

Undermining Council review

It seems to me that this is an attempt to undermine the review into the stadium.

I won't be surprised at all when Mr Davies turns around after the report comes out and says "ahh, but thats all historical now because we have made substantial changes"

 

You only read what you want to

Just curious - at what point does DVML say that 25 people are running the Stadium as opposed to all aspects of the business - incorporating all venues?  Fair few comments seem to be way off the mark stating that 25 are running the Stadium - as it says above, people are reading what they want to - one thing in print becomes something else as it hits their eyes...

Smoke and mirrors

This has to be a joke - DVML staff dropping from 27 to 25, a saving of next to nothing when compared with their annual operational losses. What exactly are these people doing? There have been no concerts since Aerosmith in April 2013 and the contracts for the Highlanders and ORFU to use the stadium will be put in place as a matter of course. It is not possible to run the stadium at a profit or even at break even. Surely after two previous CEOs walking away and millions being wasted we ratepayers can all see that. More spin, more creative acconting and more restructuring cannot hide the fact that this is and always will be a financial disaster. It is time to tender the running of venues to a private contractor who can at least bring some commercial nous and understanding to a business which is always going to lose significant amounts of money. Perhaps doing that would reduce or mitigate the losses. Go back to Australia Mr Davies, your rhetoric is nothing new. It's boring and a replay of what we have been hearing for the past 3 years.

Sensible

This is the most promising news to come out of that white elephant in awhile.

Say that again?

Staff numbers down to 25? You can't be serious. What on earth do they do all day long? Interesting to compare this to numbers of staff at other venues for hire in town (Regent, say or even the Town Hall - although both of these venues are quite a lot busier than the stadium so perhaps it's not a fair comparison). It would be interesting if the ODT could find out anyway,also compare it to other stadiums catering for similar numbers of events.  If this is to be a business, run it like one - you can't possibly afford to have 25 (doubtless well paid) staff in a business that is making colossal losses every day. 

Focus focus .... on that rat hole

So DVML is reducing Dunedin Centre operations (ie the Town Hall), something it does under contract for the DCC, and replacing them with people aimed at trying to get more acts to play at the stadium proper - why?

Maybe they're embarrassed that the Town hall has better sound than the stadium? Maybe people actually wanted to use it? Maybe throwing more ratepayers money down a rat hole is now an act of faith at DVML? Maybe it turned out that the Town Hall wasn't as good for rugby as the ORFU hoped?

I think it's probably time for the DCC to take management of the town hall from DVML and go back to running it itself.

Hopeless scenario

This is not so much a 'start up' business, ready to take on a more 'commercial' basis, but a bankrupt business.It has never 'started up'.

This is just about getting rid of a few people and taking on a few more people. Meaningless new job descritions won't help. For example, a market analyst? What is there to analyse? This is a rugby stadium and it is the NZRFU who decides what test matches are to be held there. ( None for next year.) As for concerts and conferences the stadium has proved to be unsuitable, with nothing on the horizon for  concerts. Just as well, as they cost us money to hold them at the stadium.

A lot of marketing bravado talk here, from Terry Davies, in an an attempt to sound like a man in control. Stuff like 'biting the bullet'. Oh, please.

DVML shakeup

It is interesting that Mr Davies seems to be pre-empting the review recommendations before they are released next month. But at least we now know the stadium employs 25 -27 staff which begs the question - what do they do all day? Anyway, transferring accounting processes back to the DCC is a great first step to doing away with the company and bring what's left of the battered structure under the wing of council as a business unit. All in all, still gives ratepayers the impression of "shifting deck chairs around a sinking Titanic".

Startup business?

What startup? DVML would have been put into receivership long ago in the real world. But this is of course the stadium, which like its promoters and supporters are still in fantasy land.

I am surprised DVML employs so many people for such a great annual loss. Is this some ratepayer-funded employment scheme?

How about "Changes to reduce DVML's overall staff count from 27 to 0"

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