Builder Jamie O’Leary says the commercial and lifestyle advantages that have kept him in Wanganui are now attracting new residents and businesses to the district. Locals who’ve done their OE are also returning to raise their families and put their entrepreneurial skills into new ventures, many of which harness the power of the citywide ultra fast broadband fibre network.
Two of his three sons are among those who have returned to the city of their birth and they’ve bought into Jamie O’Leary Builders Ltd and the Stonewood Homes Wanganui franchise.
Jamie, who has served two terms as national president of the New Zealand Master Builders Federation, went straight into business on his own after completing his apprenticeship in 1979. He’s since been a consistent supporter of the apprenticeship system and often recruits from work-experience students from local secondary schools. He estimates he’s trained about 40 apprentices during the past 25 years.
The businesses employ 15-20 staff and sub-contractors and source the majority of materials and components from local firms and branches of national building supply chains within the Wanganui district. A local manufacturer of quality bathroom vanities and fittings plays an important role.
“We’re proud of our relationships with local companies and it’s good to see the money going into wages spent in the district,” says Jamie.
About half of the companies’ residential construction is in semi-rural areas on the city outskirts and the company also provides affordable house and land packages in new subdivisions, many in prime locations within the urban limits.
Jamie says the lack of traffic jams and speedy cross-city travel are among the benefits of doing business in Wanganui.
“You can travel from one end of town to the other in 20 minutes so you’re not wasting time getting around between jobs. Business relationships, many now into their second generation, also rate highly.”
Frequent travel to Auckland during his time as Master Builders president was a breeze with Whanganui airport only five minutes from downtown and easily accessible. Direct flights to Christchurch are only a 40-minute drive away, from Palmerston North airport.
His eyes light up when he talks about bagging a deer during a hunting trip with his son less than an hour from the city. “I can launch my boat and be catching fish in about 30 minutes and snow skiing is just a day trip.”
The Whanganui River Basin boasts the fourths most temperate climate on the planet, which is good for both the building business and his outdoor lifestyle.
“All round, it’s a great place to do business, bring up kids and hang out with the grandchildren.”