A STORMING performance from start to finish brought victory in the Merit 2001 competition to consultant Gibb in a passionately played contest over two days at Loughborough.
Gibb Energy romped home, ahead of second-placed Kant B Rong (Halliburton Brown & Root), Farnborough Alliance (Taylor Woodrow) in third, Buzz Construction (Birse), Litigation Mitigation (Halliburton Brown & Root), and Donaldson Associates.
While it may not have been Las Vegas, the intensity of the final stages at Loughborough University had as much of the passion and almost the drama of a world final Poker Classic. Furrowed brows and suits were the battledress, far from the days when the Merit finals were an excuse for a good session away from the drawing board or site in jeans and T-shirts.
For the winning team captain, Rosa Diaz, victory was especially sweet. The Spanish engineer was pipped at the post last year as a member of Halcrow Tunnels Merit team. After joining Gibb, word soon spread of her Merit experience and she was invited to swap trade secrets. And the key to victory?
'Every decision was debated - we only came to decisions we were happy with. Each person in the team had a well defined role and we had a consistent strategy, ' said Diaz.
'We sought to win big jobs, opting for lower risk, finishing early by fast-tracking, and keeping a healthy capital base. We prequalified for around 85% of the jobs we went for and paid dividends every other period keeping the shareholders happy, mirroring how it should happen in the real world, ' she added.
Gibb led the field for most of the early rounds and into the final, but excitement approached fever pitch when a change in strategy saw them toppled by Farnborough Alliance.
'We decided to go for jobs on negative mark-ups and it all went wrong. What we realised afterwards is that in real life clients will not give you a job on cost only - they know the money has to come from somewhere, ' said Diaz.
More drama occurred after the final, when the highly experienced Buzz Construction team from Birse realised that an inputting error in the last round cost them dear. The team came equipped with its own computer software, designed to outdo the Merit computer. A rerun by the game organisers after the final with the correct figures brought the painful truth that second place could have been theirs.
'I suppose it's like real life - a normal estimating error, ' said Buzz captain Glenn Hide.
All teams showed consistent performance, with most confident that they had mastered the parameters to ensure survival and profitability.
Final organiser Mike Fletcher of Loughborough University said that the standard of most 134 teams participating this year was extremely high. 'Measured against their starting position, 86% of teams were trading profitably which shows that all those playing could run a business efficiently and effectively, ' he said.
However mystery surrounds the performance of WA Fairhurst & Partners' 'Can't Build Won't Build' team, which finished spectacularly last, over 5,000 points off the pace. It is not known if another assault is planned next year.