Monday, October 3, 2016

Going Down

The death of a man who fell down an elevator (lift) shaft at Tampa International Airport (USA) in 2013 was initially ruled accidental, this after he forced open the elevator doors, jumped towards the cables and proceeded to wrap his arms and legs around them to effect a slow descent. The man lost his grip and fell seven floors to his demise.

In a report completed by the airport’s police department, the deceased Chad Wolfe was described as a man who had acted irresponsibly during and after his trip from Atlanta to Tampa on a Delta Airline flight.

The report noted that witnesses on Wolfe’s flight had told investigators he had been drinking alcohol, popping pills and acting rudely on the plane. A further witness at the airport also told police that he had seen a belligerent man banging on the seventh-floor elevator door.

According to Wolfe’s autopsy, he had Xanax in his system and his blood-alcohol level was 0.17.

In October 2014, Wolfe's estate filed a lawsuit against Tampa International Airport claiming that a malfunctioning elevator had caused his death and that airport authorities as well as the lift’s manufacturer, should have prevented it.

Evidently in a case like this, a lawsuit is needed to determine who’s responsible. 


Ernest Roper
Membership Services Manager 


Monday, July 4, 2016

Bill Gates and his 70 Billion Dollars

I’ve always wondered why Bill Gates of Microsoft fame does not give away the bulk of his $70 Billion to charity now instead of leaving it in his will when he dies in maybe 20 years time.

I know he and his wife do a lot for charity but still, with millions of people dying of starvation, why does he not give it away now? How does he sleep at night?

And then the penny dropped. Imagine the scene 20 years hence when Bill arrives at the Pearly Gates.

Saint Peter “Bill, why should I let you into Heaven?”

Bill “Well, I gave $70 Billion to charity 20 years ago.”

Saint Peter consulting his tablet “Sorry but I have no record of the donation.”

Bill feeling desperate “But you must.”

Saint Peter “Sorry Bill but 20 years ago I was running Windows 8 on my tablet, a terrible program, and it crashed and I did not back up and lost all my data”

Bill “Groan….”

Saint Peter “Take the elevator down to the basement level where Lucifer will be waiting to welcome you.”

Bill “Aaaaarghhh….”

Bill figures that in 20 years time his death and the donation arising from his will would be instantaneous with minimal chance of data loss. Besides, Saint Peter would probably be running Windows 17 a vast improvement on Windows 8 and he would certainly be backing his tablet up to the Cloud.

Bill Gates is one smart fellow.

Greg Beykirch
Finance Director


Monday, June 6, 2016

$54 million Awarded for Construction Fatality

February 2016 saw a landmark ruling in Harris County Texas, when a jury awarded approximately $54 million to the family of a construction worker who was fatally injured in 2013, during the renovation of A&M’s Kyle Field, home to the Aggie football (gridiron) team since 1905.

On Dec. 4, 2013 Angel Garcia fell to his death while operating a Caterpillar loader on the fourth floor spiral ramp in the northeast section of the stadium.

He was using the loader's bucket to catch concrete debris being removed from the structure. It was part of the $450-million renovation to expand seating from 82 600 to 102 500. The loader had a 1225kg carrying capacity but was bearing a 1515kg concrete section.

The weight caused the overloaded construction vehicle to topple forward over the side causing Garcia to be thrown four stories down. After landing on a pile of rubble he was rushed to a hospital where he died from injuries sustained.

The lead construction company Manhattan-Vaughn, Lindamood Demolition (Garcia's employer) and Texas Cutting & Coring had been named in the lawsuit.

When the jury returned, the verdict was unanimous.

The jurors determined that Manhattan-Vaughn bore 75 percent of the responsibility while Lindamood Demolition was held 25 percent responsible for the circumstances that led to Garcia's death. According to court documents, the jury concluded that neither Texas Cutting and Coring nor Garcia himself bore any responsibility.


Ernest Roper
Membership Services Manager


Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Historical Quotes That Proved to be Wrong

Hindsight is 20/20 vision but it can also be humorous, like when Decca Records famously rejected The Beatles for a record deal in 1962, saying "guitar groups are on the way out" and "The Beatles have no future in show business”. Throughout history there are many such examples of how respected businessmen, great intellectuals and reputable publications very mistakenly predicted the future:

"If excessive smoking actually plays a role in the production of lung cancer, it seems to be a minor one." - W.C. Heuper, National Cancer Institute, 1954.

"Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau."  - Irving Fisher, economics professor at Yale University, 1929.

"X-rays will prove to be a hoax." - Lord Kelvin, President of the Royal Society, 1883.

"A rocket will never be able to leave the Earth's atmosphere." - The New York Times, 1936.

"There will never be a bigger plane built." - A Boeing engineer, after the first flight of the 247, a twin engine plane that holds ten people.

"There is not the slightest indication that nuclear energy will ever be obtainable. It would mean that the atom would have to be shattered at will." - Albert Einstein, 1932.

"Everyone acquainted with the subject will recognize it as a conspicuous failure."-Henry Morton, president of the Stevens Institute of Technology, on Edison's light bulb, 1880.

"The horse is here to stay but the automobile is only a novelty—a fad." - The president of the Michigan Savings Bank advising Henry Ford's lawyer not to invest in the Ford Motor Co., 1903.

"Television won't last because people will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night." -Darryl Zanuck, movie producer, 20th Century Fox, 1946.

"Rail travel at high speed is not possible, because passengers, unable to breathe, would die of asphyxia." -  -Dr. Dionysius Lardner, professor of Natural Philosophy and Astronomy, 1823

"There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home." -Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), in a talk given to a 1977 World Future Society meeting in Boston.

"The world potential market for copying machines is 5000 at most." - IBM, to the eventual founders of Xerox, saying the photocopier had no market large enough to justify production, 1959.

If you enjoyed blog post, there is a whole Wikipedia page dedicated to business quotes that proved wrong. ..... Enjoy

Ernest Roper
Membership Services Manager


Monday, April 4, 2016

Crime Doesn’t Pay

Cable theft is something that we in South Africa are all too familiar with. It is extremely frustrating when it does occur as it impacts heavily on business, broadband will perhaps go down, electricity may go off, traffic lights sometimes don’t work properly and so it goes on. It is however not unique to South Africa and according to the FBI, copper theft is a critical threat to U.S. infrastructure.  In Arizona, the mummified remains of a man discovered in a Tucson manhole, told its own poignant story.

In May 2014 the manhole was opened to investigate a fluctuation in electrical power. According to records kept by Tucson Electric Power, the manhole had not been opened in the past five years.

The team that entered the underground high-voltage vault was astounded to find the desiccated remains of a man slumped near severed copper wires holding a bolt cutter in his mummified hand.

An autopsy confirmed the obvious conclusion that electrocution was the likely cause of death. The date of death was set at somewhere between one and two years previous to the discovery. The ID of a 51-year-old man was found on the mummy and it later became evident, that nobody had noticed the shock victim was missing.


Ernest Roper
Membership Services Manager


Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Six years and nobody noticed ?

Recently retired Spanish civil servant Joaquin Garcia, found himself in hot water when his long-time employer, a state owned water company, decided to honour the state engineer with a commemorative plaque for 20 years of service.

It turned out that he had skipped work for six years, and up to that point nobody had noticed.

Jorge Blas Fernandez, deputy mayor of Cadiz from 1995 to 2015 who had hired Mr Garcia, announced that he was under the impression that the water company had been supervising him.

Mr Fernandez was quoted as saying, "He was still on the payroll. I thought where is this man? Is he still there? Has he retired? Has he died?"

"I asked him: what are you doing? What did you do yesterday and the previous month? He could not answer," said Mr Fernandez who had been told by a former manager of the water board whose office was opposite Mr Garcia's, that he had not seen Garcia in years.

During court proceedings Mr Garcia reportedly told the court that he had in-fact turned up to work, but there was actually no work to be carried out.

He was fined 27,000 Euros.

Ernest Roper
Membership Services Manager


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

A Day of Contemplation

I think it’s imperative to take at least one day off a year to step back, see where you are at and plan forward for matters spiritual, personal and financial - A Day of Contemplation.

As an example, because Retirement reforms have just been enacted effective 1st March 2016, let’s look at Retirement Annuities and cigarette smoking!

These 2 matters are connected in that smoking is expensive, it reduces longevity and gives you health issues. On the other hand providing for retirement is expensive and depends partly on longevity and health issues. It’s chilling to realise that only 6% of South Africans retire comfortably due in part to using possible retirement funding income for non essentials.

So let’s look at the real cost of smoking – at R1 000 per month on your gross salary of R30 000 per month.

The R1 000 is net of tax but it’s actually R1 450 gross of tax with your marginal tax rate at 31%. If you give up smoking you could contribute R1 450 to a Retirement Annuity at a cost of R1 000 per month, net of tax.


R30, 000


R1 450


R200 000

R50, 000


R1 640


R226 000



R1 695


R235 000

In real terms, after stripping out inflation and costs, a R1 450 per month contribution to a Retirement Annuity at an after tax cost of R120 000 could result in a saving of R200 000 in ten years time or R235 000 if your marginal tax rate was at the maximum of 41% which would equate to a R1 695 monthly contribution.

And you would be healthier and live longer. A sobering thought! Talking about sobering, alcohol….…….

This is but one example of financial matters to consider – what about others such as wills, homes, insurance, cell phones etc  all inter connected to the greater picture.

By the way, after drafting this missive, I immediately gave up smoking.

Please set aside at least one day a year as A Day of Contemplation.

I hear you say you don’t have time but that won’t carry  this year as it’s a leap year – a whole extra day to make the 29th February your Day of Contemplation.

Greg Beykirch
Finance Director



Monday, December 7, 2015

15 Storeys - Just Six Days

In 2010 a remarkable feat of construction caused locals in the city of Changsha to become disorientated.

A contracting company and crew in the south-central Chinese city broke all construction timeline barriers, by completing a 15-storey hotel in just six days.

This remarkable achievement reportedly caused considerable disorientation, as locals who were away over the period returned home to a somewhat different looking neighbourhood.

The work crew erected the soundproofed, thermal-insulated structure said to be built to withstand a magnitude 9 earthquake with all prefabricated materials. Both off and onsite crews were used to build the different sections and arrange them on the foundation.

The floors and walls of the hotel are reportedly solid, airtight and sound proof, even though the construction materials utilized are much lighter.

The sustainable hotel already had its foundation, but by using pre-fabricated columns and modules as well as modern construction techniques, construction workers only needed 46 hours to finish the main structural components and another 90 hours for the building enclosure.

Despite the frenzied pace of construction, no workers were injured and to top it all off, thanks to the prefabricated nature of the building process, very few construction materials went to waste.

Reference: Article found on

Ernest Roper
Membership Service Manager


Monday, November 16, 2015

Blood Drive – 25 November 2015

Donating a unit of blood can save up to three lives!

Master Builders KwaZulu-Natal in partnership with the South African National Blood Service (SANSB), will on the 25 November 2015 be hosting a blood drive at the Association's Durban Premises at 40 Essex Terrace Westville.

The demand for blood increases considerably over the holiday season and with December just around the corner, we call on the building Industry and members of the public to join us in contributing to this extremely important cause.

Join us between 9am and 3pm on 25 November 2015 at our Westville premises and help save lives.

Ernest Roper
Membership Services Manager


Monday, November 2, 2015

No it Wasn’t a Mirage!

Those of you who read Durban’s daily newspaper “The Mercury” are probably familiar with Graham Linscott’s column “The Idler” which not unlike this blog, likes to look at the lighter side of life, helped by readers who write in and share their humorous misadventures with him.

One fine day in October 2015, the column made reference to the familiar name of Greg Beykirch and told the tale of how oncoming traffic, caused our Financial Director to raise his eyebrow:

Wrong Way

Yesterday’s front page had horror pictures of a minibus taxi driving down the “up” carriage way on Field’s Hill in early morning rain.  How there were no accidents is a wonder. What kind of mentality prompts this?

Greg Beykirch, of Pinetown, had a similar experience in India. He was being driven from Jaipur to Delhi and it was the hottest time of the year. Suddenly there was a mirage. A 20-ton truck came trundling towards them on the wrong side of the highway, travelling in the fast lane.

But it wasn’t a mirage. His driver didn’t bat an eyelid as he respectfully moved over to allow the truck past.

Then another 20-tonner came past, travelling in the wrong direction. The driver explained that they were locals and it was too much hassle for them to cross to the correct carriageway for the direction they were travelling”.

Ernest Roper
Membership Services Manager