"Like all local businesses, we sponsor a whole host of events and organisations in the community, and as a passionate rugby dad I am a huge supporter of Marlborough Boys' College rugby"
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Fishing on the Wairau
I’ve been working in the electrical trade since 1994. I started out as just one guy and my van and grew to about seven staff. Five years ago Aotea Electric Nelson bought half of my business and we rebranded to the Aotea Electric branding. We now have a staff of 22.
Over lockdown we were running at about 30% capacity supporting clients including New Zealand King Salmon, Nelson Marlborough District Health Board and other essential services.
Lockdown was a bit scary at first, but the Government subsidy helped. We had several Zoom meetings with the rest of the Aotea group around the country, and it was good to know that we weren’t alone. I was really lucky to have had that support network.
Working our way through the health and safety procedures at the various alert levels with the cleaning, hand sanitising and keeping our electricians and customers safe, was challenging as it hadn’t been done before. We basically had to create new systems and procedures from scratch.
A couple of months after lockdown now and it’s almost back to business as normal, I hired another staff member recently, we’re ticking along.
There’s still a lot of uncertainty with the global situation and how that will affect us, so we’re being cautious, but in general the construction industry seems to be doing ok.
The Government is pumping funding into local projects, like the new library and art gallery and there’s more work in the pipeline, including Marlborough District Council’s Blenheim sewage system upgrade and new seniors’ flats in Blenheim, plus Port Marlborough’s Waikawa Marina extension. Things are looking positive.
One of the challenges in construction is the shortage of skilled staff, so as the business has grown, we work closely with Peter Baker from the Gateway Programme at Marlborough Boys' College, which enables 17 and 18 year olds to get some work experience and see what the trade is like before they leave school.
It also gives us a chance to suss out who’s got what it takes to be a good electrician, and for the past few years we’ve taken on a new apprentice each year.
It’s great having the opportunity to work with young people to ensure the future generation of electricians are properly trained.
I’ve also just signed up as a mentor for the Youth Employment Success Programme, working with 16 - 24 year olds to help them put their CVs together, find work placements and have practice interviews. Young people are the future, so it’s important they get the support they need to get into the workforce.
Like all local businesses, we sponsor a whole host of events and organisations in the community, and as a passionate rugby dad I am a huge supporter of Marlborough Boys’ College rugby, sponsoring the jerseys of the U14, U15 and U16 teams, as well as coaching the U15s.