Belinda Feek is a NZ Herald reporter

Job ad proves a winner for Auckland builder

Carl Watson, left, and boss Gary Freshwater on their building site at Westmere yesterday. Freshwater took a tongue-in-cheek approach to find some decent staff and found Watson. Photo / Doug Sherring
Carl Watson, left, and boss Gary Freshwater on their building site at Westmere yesterday. Freshwater took a tongue-in-cheek approach to find some decent staff and found Watson. Photo / Doug Sherring

Fed-up builder Gary Freshwater used good old-fashioned Kiwi humour to find decent staff.

And it paid off.

Although it's not his typical way to find some new recruits, Freshwater says his new chippy - 35-year-old Carl Watson - hasn't missed a day.

Freshwater hit the social media spotlight after placing his ad in the NZ Herald recently pleading with potential applicants not to bother if they "oversleep, have court often, have to get a ride to work later than our workday begins, have to hold on to cellphone whole day".

Initially he had a couple of responses but they didn't show up. However, Watson did, and has made such an impression, and enjoyed it so much, he's likely to take up an apprenticeship.

"It's really good," Watson says. "I get to use my brain and my muscles. I'm getting fit again, it's awesome."

Watson says he's spent the past 18 years working in hospitality so building was a good change.

"I want to take it further and get qualified."

And Freshwater likes his work ethic.

"He might even be looking at doing an apprenticeship, even though he's an older guy. He's keen to stay in the building game, so that's what we're looking for. It's a bit of a commitment. A lot of older guys don't want to commit to another three or four years to do a bit of an apprenticeship but at least if you do that you come out as a qualified builder and get to charge the exhorbitant rates that we're meant to be charging."

Given Watson has a few more years under his belt than Freshwater's usual apprentices, some of whom are in their teens, Freshwater says he can offer him a better wage and is not hamstrung on the low pay apprentices used to get back in the day.

"It's a little bit different to the old days and you're not stuck on the apprenticeship wages. You're paying for someone who's a bit more experienced and hopefully they can get through it a bit quicker."

Freshwater says he's been so busy that last week he took on another apprentice, a 17-year-old family friend, and put him on a three-month trial to see if he enjoys it.

As for whether he's happy he went public, Freshwater says it pays to speak out.

"Sometimes yes. You can get the right man."

- NZ Herald

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