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Family firm continuing to thrive – Blackley Construction

“It’s about honesty and doing everything right.”

Rural Contract Manager James Christensen

Over the past 60 years Blackley Construction has seen many changes as it has responded to shifting markets and client demands, says company rural contract manager James Christensen.

Blackley Construction provides civil and rural services to the Manawatu region including Feilding, Marton, Rongotea, Hawke’s Bay and Wairarapa.

The company was started in 1960 by Janice and Graeme Blackley in Carterton. The company moved to Manawatu in 1965 and in 1969 shifted to Stoney Creek Road establishing the company’s existing depot. James says this has proved the perfect base, just a few kilometres north of Palmerston North and well located to service its rural and urban-based clients.

Since those early days, the company has grown, developed, diversified and specialised. Janice and Graeme’s eldest son, Kevin, is now owner and managing director.

Graeme, who is in his 80s, still comes to work though three days a week focusing on training and assessing staff, providing the opportunity for staff to benefit from his considerable experience, says James.

He says Kevin offers unparalleled experience in the local industry having dug his way around the greater Manawatu.

The management team also includes Bruce Lambie, who Kevin says is an acknowledged leader in health and safety.

James puts the success of the company over so many decades down a combination of in-depth knowledge of ground conditions, consistently listening carefully to clients to identify problems, generating options to resolve problems and innovating to deliver quality solutions in a cost effective way.

He says establishing strong, long term and trusted relationships with clients is important.

“It’s about honesty and doing everything right,” says James. Being approachable and responsive – delivering the service our clients want when they need it.”

This has seen the company involved in a range of diverse projects including wind farms locally and as far afield as Invercargill and Raglan, drainage in Wellington’s Sky Stadium and laying cable for the ultra-fast broadband rollout across the Manawatu region.

James says that since the company was formed, providing services to the rural community has always been a key part of operations.

“Our staff are very experienced in this area and work with clients to develop the best solution for their farm infrastructure needs,” he says.

Services include land drainage and driveways, effluent ponds, irrigation, underpasses, races and culverts, concrete installation, general earthworks including foundations, dams, slope stabilisation and riverbank protection and stump removal.

“No farm construction job is too big or too small for Blackley. We design and build to suit our customers’ requirements,” says James.

“Blackley essentially provides a one-stop-shop for farmers. It means they don’t have to deal with several contractors and the associated coordination hassles as we have established relationships with specialist subcontractors for complementary services when something is outside our scope. We manage the subcontractors for our customers to get the right people for the job and ensure the project runs seamlessly and they receive the best results.”

The company offers the latest RTK GPS surveying equipment and design software to provide clients with a total design build service.

Plant also includes a range of different trenchers and excavators – important as the Blackley’s drainage teams install up 150,000 metres of pipe per year.
Utilising specialist equipment the company can offer different backfill options such as turf or washed stone.

James says that at Blackley Construction health and safety is always a priority on all projects.

The company is a member of ISNetworld Contractor Prequalification, an acknowledgement of the company’s qualifications and experience as well as simplifying the tendering process, saving time and effort, says James.

Since Covid-19 the company has been very busy and is presently undertaking a number of different contracts including laying power cables for a new wind farm in the Manawatu, completing preliminary works for a new highway between Palmerston North and Woodville, which involves installation of power cables, and pipework installation around the Carterton Wastewater Treatment plant.

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