The staff were called into the meeting around lunchtime with no idea that they would leave the room unstaffed.
All staff at a Gold Coast company have been summoned to a lunchtime board meeting on Thursday. By the time they left the room, they were all unemployed.
All 15 of them were made redundant on the spot after the company, Pivotal Homes, became the latest victim of Australia’s struggling construction sector.
Chief executive Michael Irwin publicly announced hours later that the organization had gone into liquidation, citing rising labor and construction costs as the reason it was unable to continue.
Staff were not warned that the business was doing badly, nor were they told that they should start looking for a job.
Pivotal Homes sales manager Tom Egan said he and a dozen other staff were “devastated” by the sudden collapse of the business.
“No one knew,” Mr Egan, who has worked in the construction industry for 25 years, told news.com.au.
“At 1:30 p.m. [on Thursday] everyone was called to the meeting room. The liquidator announced that we were dismissed.
“It’s devastating for everyone, you had staff there [who had been working for] up to 10 years.
Mr Egan said he reported only to chief executive Mr Irwin and otherwise oversaw all operations, and had seen no signs that the business was running out of steam.
Mr Egan stressed that no one knew it was coming, explaining: ‘All the bills were paid, nothing was ever unpaid, there were no warning signs.
Staff will not receive any severance pay.
Instead, the liquidators will pay them all the leave rights they have accumulated, and that’s it.
The sales manager, who worked for Pivotal Homes for just over three years, said he plans to take a break from the business for a while.
News.com.au has contacted Pivotal Homes for comment.
Dozens of angry customers have contacted Mr Egan demanding answers, even though he no longer works for the company.
He said anyone left out by the collapse should get in touch with the liquidators, Chris Cook and James Robba of Worrell’s.
Affected homeowners can also apply for Home Warranty Insurance, which is administered by the Queensland Government through the Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC).
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Mum-of-two Ashley Wu, 38, suspected Pivotal Homes staff had no idea of their impending loss due to their interactions with them before the business collapsed.
The Brisbane resident was trying to build a house after buying empty land in Ipswich last year, but was beset by price issues and delays.
She worries about what will happen to her $18,000 deposit now that the business has gone bankrupt.
Earlier this year, Pivotal Homes asked Ms Wu if she would be willing to shell out an additional $34,000 for her $363,500 build.
Ms. Wu consulted with her lawyer, who legally stated that she did not have to pay them extra because the contract was fixed.
But understanding the stress the construction industry was under, Ms Wu negotiated with the company and eventually agreed to pay an additional $24,000.
On Wednesday, they finally reached an agreement, which is why the landowner was confused to learn that just a day later the company had gone bankrupt.
Staff were also asking Ms Wu to sign drawing contracts which could then be sent to the local council less than 24 hours before the company officially went bankrupt.
“It didn’t seem like the staff knew about it,” she said.
The construction sector has been hit hard by collapses this year.
Two major Australian construction firms, including Gold Coast-based Condev and industry giant Probuild, have already gone into liquidation this year.
Smaller operators like Hotondo Homes Hobart and Perth, Home Innovation Builders and New Sensation Homes, and Sydney-based Next have also collapsed, leaving homeowners out of pocket and with homes unfinished.
An industry insider told news.com.au earlier this year that half of Australian construction companies are on the verge of collapse as they are insolvent, and it could see thousands of homes affected within months. coming.