Client satisfaction the key for Jonny
When Jonny Collett talks about the construction industry that he has lived and breathed over the last 18 years, you can feel the passion and sincerity through his every word.
The managing director of award winning Christchurch construction company JE Collett Builders Ltd, talks about core principles that include adding value to people lives through the construction process, wanting to help people and see them succeed.
And there have been many examples of that over the years, particularly in earthquake ravaged Christchurch where people have spent long periods deprived of their homes.
Jonny talks about the client whose magnificent character home in Merivale suffered extensive damage.
A fourth generation family home, Jonny says it was deeply important to the client that repairs remained true to the home’s heritage.
After much attention to detail and finding solutions to the challenges presented by the age of the building it was lovingly restored and handed back to the appreciative owner 12 months after work commenced.
“We offer our clients valued solutions to their homes and make sure we have an invested interest in every project that we do, whether it’s a new deck, an extension to their house or a brand new build. I’m a big believer in seeing people satisfied with their investment.”
Jonny says there is nothing ‘vanilla’ about him – a colourful individual who enjoys a good laugh, doesn’t take himself too seriously but loves the industry and has developed a culture of respect, hard work and laughter within his team.
“We’re committed to this industry – the whole team is, and committed to making it happen for people. Integrity is a big one for us – but that’s something that is earned over time.”
Jonny is an executive member of the Registered Master Builders committee. He’s proud of that position, saying he’s ‘not there to warm the seat’.
“There’s a lot I want to achieve in that role and help the industry with. I want to see businesses within the industry thrive.” Growing up in a farming environment in Marlborough, he says hard work was just non-negotiable.
“We were brought up in a practical way – my father was a tradesman and my grandfather was an engineer in the war. He built bridges and blew them up. The first Collett to step foot in New Zealand was a carpenter – so there’s a long history of tradesmen in our family.”
A highly competitive triathlete in a past life, Jonny moved to Christchurch where he completed his apprenticeship in between triathlons right around the world – taking the opportunity to put the nail belt on between races.
Completing his apprenticeship, Jonny moved to Melbourne where he says what he had learned in his trade was fine tuned while working in the demanding role of construction project manager for Harper Design and Construction.
Returning to New Zealand, and after a spell working as a foreman for other builders and then as sole trader, Jonny established his limited liability company just after the quakes and continued to progressively grow the business as funds allowed.
“We’re self-made, done it nice and quietly – never thinking we would get as big as we have. I’m humbled that we have achieved what we have achieved. We became very involved in the rebuild processes, going through Hawkins Commercial sector programme.
We were eventually awarded the first IAG repair build on the hill which was the test case for all the hill builds, and away we went.” Jonny says he loves the challenge of the hill builds.
“We have a knack for problem solving – I just love that. I’m a great believer that there’s never a problem – just a solution waiting to be found.”
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