A NOSEDIVE in the construction market helped Caerphilly Council's team Network Contracting Services clinch the ICE Merit 2004 award last month.
After a slow start, the team's 'aggressive bidding' ensured its place in the virtual construction management game's hall of fame.
The Merit competition is designed to improve the management, enterprise, risk control, innovation and teamwork skills of engineers from consulting and contracting backgrounds.
Chris Adams, Jason Caplice, Gareth Richards, Marcus Lloyd, John Martin and Joe Williams beat 180 other teams to win the final round of the competition at Loughborough University.
'Slow and steady wins the race' could have been the motto for the team which only entered the top three of the league table in the penultimate round of the 14-round competition.
But team captain Adams said this was all part of the plan. 'We started off slowly, but knew when we wanted to build up and peaked at just about the right time. We didn't rush.'
Adams added that having a variety of experiences within the team gave them the edge.
Members ranged from student to chartered engineer.
The game is now run on the internet over eight weeks although the final is a 'live' head to head challenge between six teams over two days.
Originator and organiser Mike Fletcher said that Mouchel Parkman's team Smeg Head Construction looked certain to win in the first four rounds of the final.
'But the market took a nosedive in the last two periods leaving little work for the teams to bid for, ' he said.
'Network Contracting did a lot of aggressive bidding and reduced their margins so that clients turned to them rather than the other companies, ' he added.
The game is constantly evolving and improving. This year, Fletcher introduced the concept of handing out 'golden handshakes' as a way for teams to acquire the best virtual project managers.
Joint venture team Amey Mouchel won the Merit Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) Sponsor's Award.
Registration for Merit 2005 starts in November.