This piece is written and provided by Shelena Serrano – Director, Vekta Automation

There is no pressure like a deadline. Be it frames or trusses that need to be on a building site, plans that need to be finalised or in my case, an FTMA article that needs to be written. Stress levels, anxiety and the feeling of doom- ‘I just can’t do it’ creep in. For me, August has been such a month. I’ve struggled to meet deadlines and achieve at the high level I set for myself. Managing Vekta, solo parenting (Ed is working in the US) combined with a trip to the Kids Hospital ED, pre-teen angst and an over energetic 5 year old- I was done. There was no way I could handle a deadline for an industry article. With half the country in lockdown and the delta situation worsening everyday, what could I possibly write about? Now is not the time to market products, boast about support or give words of wisdom on software and optimising.

Inspiration and support comes in a variety of forms. For me, a friend’s message-

‘Life is like a book. Some chapters are sad, some happy and some exciting. But if you never turn the page you will never know what the next chapter holds’. This led me to thinking about chapters.

Chapters – so I’m sure that everyone would agree that it would be ideal if we could fast forward the 2021 Covid/ Delta/ Lockdown/ Vaccination chapter! No-one wants to be in this chapter (I’m not even in lockdown… fingers crossed).

But if we skipped it, we wouldn’t learn the lessons. It’s the lessons and the next chapter for Vekta I would like to share with you.

Resilience – a buzzword that every school kid and parent gets thrown at them. Our children must be resilient- as parents we need to ensure we teach that. But as business owners/ managers/ employees we also need to be resilient. In fact the Comm Bank has a whole page dedicated to advice for business owners to be resilient. But what does that actually mean? Resilience can be defined as the process of adapting in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, or other significant sources of stress. Haven’t we all had to do this!

I have learnt to be resilient in the face of employment challenges. Like everyone, Vekta has struggled to get staff. With no migration, closed borders, WA’s booming mining industry- employees are hard to come by. I can’t say we’ve found a solution but we have adapted to the challenges. Reviewing remuneration, re-focusing on culture, communication, recognition and training are strategies used for our talented team. When employing someone, the measures have been adjusted- we’re looking for the right person to fit with the team, someone who will add to the culture and share our passion. It’s still a hard market but with every person we choose I’m confident they bring their best to Vekta and for our customers.

I have learnt to be resilient in the face of supplier challenges. Ok, so getting electrical components is easier than timber (you guys win that one!) but I recently found out that getting a berth on a ship is quite the challenge. At Vekta, we’ve learned to adapt our processes to better control our stock. To be more forward thinking about what our future procurement needs will be and adjusting as required. To communicate with our suppliers and diversify when necessary. For timber – the only advice I can offer is to ensure your optimising settings are working for you. If you can help with shipping lines I’d love to hear from you.

I have learnt that the ‘outside’ team is just as important as the ‘inside’ team. Your suppliers and industry bodies (shout-out to the FTMA board and Kersten) that support you and have your back are vital to navigating the way through these chapters. From disseminating information, going in to bat for you, providing advice or even an ear to listen. No business can do it alone.

I have learnt that at times you just need to take a break. For me, that is relying on my family to help with my children- to give me time to focus on work or even (occasionally) have an afternoon to myself. At work I’ve adapted by delegating tasks that can be done by others and ensuring they feel empowered to complete the task. If I burn out I will be no support to my husband, children or colleagues. It’s amazing what a ten minute walk during lunch can do.

So…. the next chapter for Vekta. Ed and I are ‘turning the page’ and it is exciting! As I was awaiting my daughters CT scans and blood results my team of lawyers and settlement agents were busy finalising the purchase of a factory. A 6,255 sqm fully fitted office and warehouse to become Vekta’s new home. Parking spaces for our expanding team, a cafe style lunch area where we can all meet together, outside alfresco area and a workshop that our manufacturing team are itching to get into. We couldn’t have done this alone, the dedication and support of the Management and whole Vekta team have helped to realise this dream. For our customers this chapter will ensure lead times are brought down and the high quality of Vekta machinery is continued if not surpassed.

At Millrose Drive, Vekta will have an entire area dedicated to research and development. For Vekta, researching, developing and commercialising new automation for the Frame and Truss industry is our passion. It’s been amazing to see how the P3 Printer, PackFeeder, Direct Delivery System, Smart Roller Conveyor and our most recent product- the Rotator have and are being embraced by the industry and becoming vital ‘team members’ in plants throughout Australia, New Zealand and the USA. Ed has a number of ideas in his head and Vekta’s Engineering team are excited to get to work on bringing them to life and sharing them with the industry. Watch this space!

A new factory, new products, there is another page in Vekta’s next chapter – but I will leave that as a surprise for another article….

If you made it to the end, thanks for reading. If you want to share how your chapter is going I’d love to hear it. I’ll leave you with two pictures – my happy place where the stress and anxiety is forgotten, dreams are discussed, created, planned and achievements are celebrated.

Update: Tests came back and Shelena’s daughter is okay

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