Career crisis forces a new perspective
When the down-turn in the dairy pay-out caused, Taranaki engineer, Robert Lees to reconsider his professional future he saw it very much as an opportunity rather than a threat.
Stepping out on his own in 2016 as the Taranaki Mobile Engineer, has resulted in plenty of work coming his way, something he says he’s heartened to have experienced. “It’s always a risk taking those first few steps but I was convinced there was a solid niche for me to evolve in,” Robert explains.
Coming from a background in preventative maintenance and diagnosis in the Marine, a food processing industry, his natural ability to see a need has been an anchor for his continued success.
The initial niche, servicing the cancerous pandemic of rusty farm yard poles has been the main-stay of business these past two years.
Robert has developed systems to remediate and bring back to life stock-yard and dairy shed poles that, in his opinion, have not given farmers the longevity their investment in that infrastructure deserves.
Seeing the rapid ring of rust forming in as little as 12 months in a new build, Robert took it upon himself to formulate a plan of resistance.
Getting down on his hands and knees he cleans and scrapes any rust, and treats them with a minimum of two coats of rust converter, and follows that process to finish off with an industrial strength epoxy resin.
He highly recommends for that little extra, that every pole at least gets a coat of the sealer.
Further information about the ‘construction cancer’ can be found at Robert’s blog at https:// cowyardconstruction.com.
“I have witnessed two rotary sheds that had to be replaced after 15 years. There’s a massive investment in this plant and that’s not good enough.”
Come the winter months, Robert is generally busy undertaking cow-shed remedial work and while a solid amount of continuous work on projects both large and small is his happy situation, he’s also seized the opportunities working for himself presents by developing new directions.
Robert is breaking into the mobile food niche, an industry he is passionate about, given his background and qualifications in food. He has started to build, from scratch, custombuilt mobile food caravans and trucks.
When Business North Central spoke with Robert, he had completed one caravan and a food truck, with a butcher shop re-fit in between.
“It’s a really big thing overseas, especially in the States where food vendors move around the country gathering together to present to locals a wide array of food offerings. I have a wood-fired pizza oven truck currently operating in Auckland and am in a joint venture developing a unique middle eastern cuisine caravan with the intention to build more.”
While Robert operates solely most of the time, he has grown a network of contract engineers to work on specific projects when demand for his services is strong.
To free him to concentrate on the mobile food vendor sector Robert is in the process of outsourcing his rusty pole remediation services nation-wide. And there are bigger aspirations guiding his hard-work and commitment to make a success of his work-life.
As things progress in Robert’s success, and his seeds for entrepreneurship grows, the realisation of his dream becomes more relevant.
For a long time he has also desired to do good for the many underprivileged youth, and to create and offer a new age orphanage in the very near future.
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