Monday, May 30, 2011

Visit us at the Royal Show in Pietermaritzburg

The 2011 Royal Show in Pietermaritzburg began on Friday the 27th of May and closes on Sunday the 5th of June, the above image is of the Master Builders KwaZulu-Natal stand which you will find in hall 6, at the entrance to the left of Gate 3.

Our friendly team is there to advise you on the benefits of becoming a member and is able to provide you with a number of energy saving devices, also available from our Westville premises. Our Safe-Build DVD series is also obtainable for purchase.

Opening Times:
09H00 Daily

Closing times:
Friday, 27th and Saturday 28th May @ 20h00
Sunday, 29th May @ 18hoo
Monday, 30th May to Thursday 2nd June @ 18h30
Friday, 3rd and Saturday 4th June @ 20h00
Sunday 5th June @ 12h30

Entrance Fees:
Adults: R45.00
Pensioners: R 25.00
Junior (U 12 Years): R25.00
Pre-School child: Free

If you are interested in finding out more about the Association and are attending the show, stop in and say hello, we look forward to hearing from you.

Ernest Roper
Regional Manager Durban


Friday, May 27, 2011

When The Dog Laughs Last

In 2000, a 34 year old construction worker from Denver Colorado did something extremely stupid for which he paid the ultimate price. The gentleman in question was a masonry contractor who created brick and mortar edifices and having throughout his career seen many electricians at work, thought he knew enough not to require the services of one, when installing an electrified fence.

The idea behind it was to stop his dogs from roaming, after all, other dog owners had effectively employed the same tactic and farmers in the region were well known for managing cattle in much the same manner. He attached a wire to an extension cord and amazingly without mishap, managed to encircle his backyard with a 120-V strand.

The family soon became accustomed to the fence and all went well until the gentleman from Denver, decided to fetch some tomatoes from his garden. He reached out to pick one and instead of fried green tomatoes as initially intended; they ended up with fried green Charles.

Where it all went wrong ....

What our budding electrician didn’t know, is that in contrast to cattle, fences intended for dogs require a tenth of the voltage. While cattle does necessitate a 120 volts, current is regulated with the installation of a repeater which transmits 150-microsecond pulses. This cuts short the jolt in time to avoid medium to rare steaks, or if you prefer, medium to rare Charlies.

Reference: Darwin Awards

Ernest Roper
Regional Manager Durban


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Scam Artists & Online Enquiry Forms

The number of email and Internet scams going around is frightening. While millions have wizened up to the fact and simply ignore anything that sounds too good to be true, people are still being caught, hard lessons are still being learnt, and scam artists continue along their merry way with impunity.

Over the years many of these dodgy e-mails have found their way to my inbox and were they to be true, I would be on a Caribbean Island drinking pino colada's. The list is endless, I have won the Microsoft lottery, I have inherited a fortune, won the email address sweepstakes etc etc.

I’m lead to believe that as soon you engage with these scam artists, they request such things as administrative or legal fees, and that is how they take you.

Of Concern...

A case has been reported to us of one such scam, being sent out via enquiry forms.

To submit an enquiry form there is a field that needs to be completed with the answer to a system generated mathematical sum (other sites ask you to enter a word that is displayed skewed). The reason for this is to ensure that human beings populate the fields, rather than internet spiders that scan the web sending out gibberish. The mathematical sum is essentially a preventative measure against computer generated spam.

When somebody with ill intent follows the necessary steps and sends out an enquiry for the purpose of scamming, there is little we can do about it.

The one that was reported to me this morning, the first one I know of via our website; goes along the following lines:

“On behalf of the Trustees and Executor of the estate of Late Engr.Blakes Paulson; I once again try to notify you as my earlier letter returned undelivered.” It goes on to say that you are the beneficiary of USD$10,100,000.00 followed by “this may sound strange and unbelievable to you, but it is real and true”.


Rich dead relatives whom you never heard of and left you fortune is way beyond extremely unlikely. Please watch out for this sort of thing and always be vigilant, If it sounds too good to be true it generally is.

Ernest Roper
Regional Manager Durban


Monday, May 23, 2011

CEO Imprisoned for Safety Contravention

CEO of steel maker imprisoned in Europe for health and safety contravention.

International news agency Reuters reports that Herald Espehahn, the Chief Executive Officer of ThyssenKrupp, the German steel maker in Italy, was sentenced to sixteen and a half years imprisonment in Turin during early May.

The charges related to a fire that killed seven workers in 2007. Five other managers received ten year plus sentences and the Italian unit of ThysseKrupp, were fined one million Euros, after the court ruled they be held responsible for the fire.

The company intended appealing the sentence but its lawyer Cesare Zaccione did not believe that the defence would receive much leeway after the court`s verdict was read out by Maria Iannibelli, the President of the Turin Assizes.

Pieter Rautenbach


Friday, May 20, 2011

From Ordinary Members to Full Members

I have met a number of prospective members over the last two weeks and have had to explain to them that when they first sign up, they are categorised as ordinary members before making the transition to full member, of the Association. The question that naturally follows is; what’s the difference between the two?

Ordinary members enjoy the same privileges that full members do with two exceptions, usage of our logo, and being listed on

The next natural question is; what do I need to do to progress from an ordinary member, to a full member? As part of a greater initiative we call the Best Practice Model, you have to pass our safety compliance test.

The model arose out of two compelling needs that have been identified:
  1. It is recognized that we are operating in an increasingly regulated market, with safety being one of the areas of focus by the authorities. Our industry had, and was maintaining, a bad reputation for safety and we also realized that our membership was non-compliant to an unacceptable degree (and this was at the level of supposedly the best, most professional end of the market). We (the Master Builders Movement) were being looked at by authorities and other stakeholders to take a leading role ensuring safe construction among builders. We concluded that we would be failing our members by turning a blind eye to this ignorance of the law.
  2. We decided that the Association needed to be doing more to promote its members. With that, comes a responsibility to ensure that we are promoting contractors who adhere to the law and norms of best practice. Failure to do so would ultimately be disastrous for the brand and the collective reputation of members.” Brandon Abdinor | Executive Director Master Builders KwaZulu-Natal.
For more information with regard to the safety check process, contact our OHS department on 031 266 7070, we are here to help.

Ernest Roper
Regional Manager Durban


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Learn to Converse in Zulu

ISIZULU SOKUZWANA (Zulu for mutual understanding) is a stress free beginners language course which caters specifically for the person who wishes to learn basic conversational skills in Zulu.

It is designed to create understanding and encourage empathy amongst people in our radically changing social situation, with regards African values and traditions in the workplace. The next course commences Wednesday 6 July 2011 at 17h00-18h30 and runs for 14 weeks thereafter.

For further info contact Prof Noleen Turner 082 451 4334 or

Ernest Roper
Regional Manager Durban


Monday, May 16, 2011

Free Services Available To Members

In my previous Blog Post, I made mention of a document we call our Member Benefit Matrix which lists the many benefits there are to being a member of Master Builders KwaZulu-Natal, along with its Rand value.

The matrix document informs us that providing you are a full member of the Association among others, you are entitled to the following free services:
  • Listing on 'Find a Builder' Module on Website
  • Use of Master Builders Brand (Conditions Apply)
  • Press Releases published on
  • Excellence Awards (Eligible for Entry + 2 tickets)
  • Tender Information service
  • Health and Safety (5 Hours / Year)
  • Contractual and Legal (1 Hour / Year)
  • Work Place Skills Plan
With regard to you are eligible for a full profile page at no cost to your organisation. Follow link to view sample:

If you would like to meet with me personally in order to discuss any of the above or how to get the most from your membership, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Ernest Roper
Regional Manager Durban


Friday, May 13, 2011

Maximise Your Membership

Image by Airserve

I have over the last couple of weeks embarked upon several member visits for the purpose of introducing myself, and making it known that Master Builders KwaZulu-Natal does have a Durban based regional manager who is there to ensure that they are getting the most from their membership.

Upon my arrival, I hand them a copy of a document we refer to as our Member Benefit Matrix and work through each point with them. I have found it somewhat surprising that everybody I have seen thus far, has picked up on a benefit they have a need for, and weren’t aware we offered it.

The companies I am calling on are already paid up members and what’s nice about these visits, is that I’m not there to sell them something. What I’m doing is explaining to them how to maximize value for money already spent and I can honestly say; most are bowled over by what’s available to them.

If you are a member of the Association based in the greater Durban area and would like me to stop by, please feel free to contact me and I will happily schedule an appointment. I can be reached on 031 266 7070 or try me on my mobile, 083 704 0441, I look forward to meeting you.

Ernest Roper
Regional Manager Durban


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Blame it on Fred Cohen

Fred Cohen was born during 1956 and while working on his PhD thesis during 1983 at the University of Southern California wondered whether a computer program could be written to replicate copies of it into other programs. As he subsequently said, "all at once, a light bulb came on, and I said, aha! Within a few seconds I knew how to write the program and that it would work”.

He then wrote the program and added it to the minicomputer`s software. The infection seized control of the computer within minutes and Fred Cohen was able to coin the term "computer virus" to describe a program that could "infect" other programs. It inserts a copy of itself into other programs, which may act as a virus, and so the infection spreads.

In a paper published during 1984, Cohen prophetically wrote that viruses could "spread through computers and could wreak havoc on modern government, financial, business, and academic institutions".

The first virus for personal computers was created during 1986 by two hackers (programmers who intentionally design viruses) in Pakistan called "The Brain", it piggy-backed on a program held on floppy disks. Viruses on floppy disks were a nuisance, as they could infect a computer only when the disks were passed around. Most viruses now travel via email with alarming speed. They usually replicate by automatically mailing themselves to the addresses in the victim`s email address book.

Viruses can be detected and destroyed by antivirus programs, but most computer experts believe that it is mathematically impossible to write a generic program that will detect and quarantine all current and future malicious programs.

Pieter Rautenbach

Monday, May 9, 2011

Master Builders KwaZulu-Natal on Twitter

It gives us great pleasure to announce that we are up and running on Twitter and can now be followed us on Twitter handle: @MasterBuilders2.

For those who are not aware, Twitter is a micro blogging service enabling its users to upload text based messages of a 140 characters or less, known as tweets. Not unlike Facebook it is a social networking platform, the difference being it is primarily geared for smartphone technology, making it exceedingly accessible.

The manner in which Master Builders KwaZulu-Natal communicates important news and information via Twitter is to provide the headline with a link to an article, hosted on This provides members and industry stakeholders with a simple to use mechanism of acquiring industry related news on their mobiles.

In essence, for those who like to remain in the know, we are bringing information to your cell phone, available at the touch of a button. Just another way in which the Association is working for you.

Ernest Roper
Durban Regional Manager


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Green Your Office

For those who are keen on becoming more knowledgeable with respect to green practices, Master Builders KwaZulu-Natal will be presenting a Green Your Office Course, scheduled to take place on 23 May 2011 at our Westville Premises.

This complete one day course covers all aspects of the daily office routine, from purchasing to recycling, office equipment, cleaning, energy efficiency, suppliers, transport and commuting.

Something to think about .....

It has been proven that staff loyalty and productivity increase within organisations that have good environmental and/or social practices as does client loyalty. Sustainability is not just a trend, it is here to stay and healthy office practices are an essential ingredient to a successful business. Make every action count by understanding the upstream and downstream effects of daily tasks and enjoy the benefits of working in a green office.

For course information CLICK HERE

Ernest Roper
Regional Manager Durban