In August Builtin celebrated 20 years since we opened our doors. Even then, as the broker to the Certified Builders Association, which had a nationwide presence, those doors were more virtual than physical, as we helped customers up and down the country via phone, email and in person at conferences and seminars.

20 years later, with close on 2,000 builders and other trade customers on the books, we’re still engaging with customers that way, as well as now via Zoom and through our online portal. We love catching up with customers and there’s no substitute to meeting in person, so we’ve been getting back into that this year, with more than a few coffees (and beers) had!

Our birthday party also coincided with Jim’s retirement after 50+ years in the insurance industry. There were staff, partners, customers, friends and family in attendance, as well as customers we count as friends and part of the Builtin family.

A number of people spoke and reinforced both the high regard in which Jim is held, for his integrity and focus on doing right by the customer, as well as the character and fun he brought to many industry functions over the years. His air guitar solos are legendary!

The highlight of the afternoon was the mash up “flash mob” dance performed by Builtin’s staff in tribute to Jim. A bit of We Will Rock You, followed by YMCA and Staying Alive before closing with the Magnificent Seven theme song. We only hope the video doesn’t make it onto social media!

Both Jim and Keryl spoke about Jim’s time in the industry, before I turned our focus to Builtin’s journey: where we’ve come from and where we hope to take the business over the next 20 years. Here’s the part of my speech that covered this:

Builtin started life in 2002 when the fledgling Certified Builders Association asked Jim & Keryl to provide insurance broking services to its members. CBA Insurances was formed and over the years a significant share of Association members became customers. Not long after that Builtin was formed to independently manage a builders guarantee programme for members, to compete with the Master Build Guarantee.

It was the mid-2000s when Jim, having been frustrated with the way liability insurance was failing to protect builders from common risks, introduced the “faulty workmanship” extension to the New Zealand market. This has now been adopted across the market and represents a significant extension in the claims that can be covered for builders now.

Builtin was also the first to:

  1. extend cover to include the property being worked on,
  2. enable tradies to quote and apply for liability cover via a simple online portal,
  3. and introduce professional indemnity insurance for building contractors (giving them the same cover for errors & omissions that other technical professions were able to get).

Our formal connection with Certified Builders as an association ended in 2016, but our customers stuck with us and the change meant we could now appeal to customers across the whole construction sector, regardless of their affiliation. In 2019 CBA Insurances was rebranded Builtin Insurance Brokers and we continue to invest in our brand as New Zealand’s Trade Insurance Experts.

Listening to our customers’ needs is fundamental to our business. We aim to give advice that comes from our deep expertise in the construction sector and continue to innovate to offer them the best possible cover for the risks they face. This is reflected in our company mission and values:

Our mission is simply to help Kiwi builders and tradies manage their risk. Our values are that:

  • We give a shit, we care about our clients and each other
  • You can rely on us, we do what we say we’ll do
  • We look after tradies, we support our clients and the building industry with advice and education about the risks they face
  • We go the extra mile, to find solutions for our clients
  • We’re real people, we’re a family business that gives expert service with a personal touch

We’ve still got a long way to go to realise our vision to be the FMG of the construction sector, but we’re spending the time and energy now to build a platform for success, and I for one am really excited about this.

Lastly but most importantly, none of what the business has achieved and will achieve in the future would be possible without the people to make it happen. I’m sure I don’t say or show this enough, but you guys are awesome, you make it happen for us, you put up with Jim’s shit (and mine) and it’s through you that we live those values that have been and will be the foundation of our success.

Of course, our customers have been integral to our success too, with many having been with us for the whole of that 20 years. For that we sincerely thank you too.