The demolition industry has a long established reputation for being rough and tough; an industry populated by men who laugh in the face of danger, for whom hazards and risks are a constant companion.
But does that image really cut it in this day and age of health and safety conscious, risk averse and political correctness?
Well, Advanced Explosive Demolition's Eric Kelly - recently named world explosive demolition contractor of the year - certainly doesn't think so. In fact, he believes the time has come for the industry to strip away it's tough exterior and to be taken seriously as a sector with genuine skill; one that can hold its head up high alongside any other engineering-based career.
"Wars are won with toughness, but knowledge and wisdom are by far greater attributes than toughness. Sure I'm tough and hard. I wish for people to subliminally know that when they attempt to take advantage of me," he says.
"But I really want an image of intelligence, sophistication and professionalism reflected by our industry."
The timing of Kelly's comments coincide neatly with similar sentiments from newly elected Institute of Demolition Engineers' president John Woodward (pictured above). During his inaugural speech, Woodward said, "Anyone can put a building up, but it takes a trained, competent, skilled demolition engineer to take that building down safely. Anyone who works in demolition should be really proud that we belong to such a highly skilled profession and you should never allow your skills to be under-rated and undermined."
Woodward, who also used his inaugural speech to throw open the IDE membership doors to international days, believes that the key to an improved public perception is a focus on ongoing career development and a pursuit of competence at all levels of the industry.
To this end, the IDE is developing a new entrance exam that will be available in a multitude of languages and incorporate reference to legislation local to the examinee. But he is adamant that the entrance exam will remain a vital part of the membership process.
"The IDE will NEVER be an institute where you can send a cheque and a CV and receive membership by return."
Fine sentiments from two of the most-respected individuals in the global demolition industry. But can this leopard really change it's spots; or will the public forever perceive this industry as a bunch of sledge-hammer wielding Neanderthals with muscles where their brains belong?