Russell Clark (Russ) has been in the trade since he was 15. For almost as long as he’s been in the industry, he’s also been an employer.
At age 25, Russ was qualified and employing his first apprentice. Since then he’s employed and trained many apprentices, supporting them with the same opportunities he’s been offered in the construction industry.
“I’ve always been a great advocate for training. Having a company is not about hiring cheap labour, it’s about committing to somebody else’s future,” he says.
“Many young people are really excited to be trained and to gain experience in the industry. There is so much room for progression in the industry that everyone has a chance to prove their self.”
True to his beliefs, Russ recently took on a deaf apprentice. “He is no different to anyone else on the team — in fact, he follows instructions well and is a true asset to the company.”
Russ owns Licensed Renovations in Auckland, and the business is involved in a wide range of residential renovations ranging from $50,000 to close to $1m.
“There isn’t much I haven’t seen in my 35-plus years in the building industry. If any of my apprentices don’t know something, I need to be able to send them to the right job so that they have the chance to learn what they need, and to sign those units off. It’s a hands-on industry, and people learn by doing and practising.
“My first boss, Peter Jones, formerly of Argon Construction, was a legend who gave me the foundation on which I’ve built my career.
“When I’m working with young apprentices, I think back to the knowledge that Peter passed on to me. You never stop learning or turn down opportunities, or think you know it all. Everyone is different, and you are learning from everyone all the time.
“Peter gave me an opportunity, and now I’m passing that same opportunity on to the next generation. My apprentices have good people beside them, so they know that they have highly trained people to support them.
“When one of my apprentices qualifies, I know they can go to any workplace in the country and match anyone else. In fact, a number of my BCITO apprentices have already progressed to run their own businesses successfully.
“For me, my employees are my business — they do the work, and without them I wouldn’t have a business. I put my trust in my team, trusting that they will get the job done, and they always deliver.
“Outside of work I hold social events for the team, offer bonuses, and often share connections so they can build their own businesses. I also help them out in their personal lives with loans and financing. We have each other’s backs and support each other.”
For more stories about legendary bosses like Russell Clark, visit mybosslegend.nz.
'Wise words from a legendary employer
• An effective leader needs to compromise.
• A commitment to industry training means a commitment not just to hire cheap labour, but to growing someone else’s future.
• Best business decision: taking on apprentices.
• Lifelong learning means you never stop learning or turning down opportunities. Don’t think you know it all, and be adaptable.
• At the end of a tough week I go fishing.
• In five years I hope to be doing exactly what I’m doing now.
Russell Clark, Licensed Renovations