Choose the right people. That’s the lesson I learned from this ordeal.
I’m the owner of an ice skating rink in Perth. Now Australians don’t really have ice skating sports at the forefront of their consciousness. So any opportunity I get to increase awareness of the sports an ice rink offers, well, I do what can.
Late last year I heard about an ice hockey team in the Stanley Cup ( the major ice hockey event in North America) deciding to have their end of season trip in Australia. So I phoned the club and worked my way to one of the management and explained how a ‘friendly’ ice hockey game between their boys and whatever I could piece together here would be in our mutual interest: If they played a game while out here then they could write the entire trip off on tax. And for me to have a Stanley Cup team playing at my venue … Well it’d certainly make the papers at least.
So the wrangling began. They didn’t care too much about appearance money. The tax write off alone was incentive enough.
When the final phone call was made I walked out of my office and looked at my rink.
It was like getting punched in the stomach.
The place was a dump. The air-conditioning was shot, the ice was thick with puddles, and the humidity was all wrong. There was no way I could show this to a Stanley Cup team.
I’d been planning renovations and upgrades for a long time. Now I had no choice. The pity was I was panicked. So the first people to answer my call got the job.
They were into the air-conditioning within a couple of days, refitting and re-piping the ducts. A new generator and cooling unit and everything was ready to go.
Fortunately I had the presence of mind to organise a test night.
I wanted two teams to try out the new ice, make sure it was up to standard. So I called in some ex-players, asked them to put two teams together and took out some adds in the paper inviting the public to the game.
Everything went well on the ice. The air-conditioning and cooling units worked like champions. But at about 10 minutes into the game we had a problem with the toilets – none of them would flush. Since I’m a licensed venue, selling drinks at a game is my major source of income. If the toilets don’t work people are less likely to drink. People less likely to drink reduce my profits.
I called in our maintenance guy. He came back with a shrug and said there was nothing he could do – it was the new air-conditioning that was responsible.
What had happened was the idiots I’d hired to install the new system had routed the pipes going to the rink too close to the pipes flushing the toilets. The water going to the toilets had frozen!
This was three days before the Stanley Cup team arrived.
Curiously the original contractors were unable to be contacted. I doubt I would have got them back anyway. Fortunately McKnight’s Air stepped up when I needed them. Within hours they were on pipes connecting the cooling unit to the rink.
They actually came back to me before doing anything and said it would be cheaper and faster for me if they left the rink pipes where they were and rerouted the flushing pipes.
I told them they had less than two days and to do what they needed to do to make it work.
You have never seen a team of guys work like these boys. The foreman was constantly liasing between me, the suppliers and his boys doing the work. It was a massive job and the deadline was unmissable.
With six hours before the whistle blew they were done.
Fortunately I’d taken the McKnight’s Air advice. Had I not, and replaced the pipes leading to the rink, the ice on the rink would have been mush.
As it was the Stanley Cup team enjoyed the venue (though I’m certainly not in the league of the auditoriums in North America). The fans enjoyed the game and the beer and I dodged a bullet.