Comment – Cometh the hour…

How David Keane’s stewardship put the NFDC back on course.

At the Rosewood Hotel in West London later this morning, David Keane will once again hand over the presidential reins of the National Federation of Demolition Contractors (NFDC), the organisation of which he has been acting president for the past nine months. Unforeseen circumstances and last-ditch power grabs notwithstanding, Keane will pass the chains of office to Keltbray’s Holly Price who is set to become the Federation’s first-ever female president (appropriately, on International Women’s Day).

Now the reasons for David Keane’s return for a second term in the Federation hot-seat – Paul Brown’s premature and unprecedented ejection – still rankles with me. But even Brown’s most vocal supporters – and I count myself among them – cannot understate the job that Keane has done in restoring stability to the good ship NFDC.

He could have said no. After all, he had served his time as president back in 2001 and one term is enough for most and too much for many. There were probably times during his second tenure when he may have regretted answering the Federation’s call. But when that call came, Keane stepped up to the plate. And, although such a term feels slightly at odds with the very British institution that is the NFDC, he subsequently “hit it out of the park”.

Those expecting Keane to be the measured diplomat the Federation needed were not disappointed. Those that expected Keane to just bide his time and keep his head down, however, will have been shocked at the way in which he has grasped the Federation by the scruff of the neck and given it the much-needed shake it so desperately needed.

With 150-odd members (some of them way odder than others) split among five geographic regions, the pursuit of unity is always going to be a fool’s errand. But Keane’s willingness to listen, to understand and to act has afforded the NFDC a level of harmony it has not enjoyed for some considerable time. He has quelled dissenting voices, rebuilt bridges and – perhaps most importantly – restored respectability to an organisation wracked with infighting and division this time last year.

There is every possibility that, at some point later today, someone will announce that David Keane has been awarded the Demolition Achievement award; that tends to be the way with outgoing NFDC presidents. In this instance, such a reward would be well-deserved and entirely fitting.

In truth, however, the real prize winner in all of this will be Holly Price. There is no question that she has earned her place as NFDC president. There is no question that she has earned the opportunity to shape the Federation in her own image, or that she has the credentials to do so with considerable aplomb.

But the fact that she can do so from a blank canvas and with the support of a (mostly) united membership stems entirely from the diplomacy, leadership and pragmatism demonstrated by David Keane during his acting presidency. And if the NFDC emerges from all those past trials and tribulations reborn, it will be due to the nurturing care it received during its nine months under David Keane’s care.