Farm build expert finds his niche
After 25 years in the construction industry and an impressive 300 dairy-sheds under his belt, Craig Walker has earned a trusted reputation for being a thinking builder.
As managing director of North Canterbury’s C & T Walker Construction Ltd, Craig says that he’s not just building the farmer’s shed, he’s also thinking about their needs and making sure they are met.
He says his forte is very much project management; assembling and coordinating a full range of sub-contractors from roofers, concrete workers, pipe workers and electricians along with platform and plant specialists.
“You can imagine with modern sheds that have automatic cup removers, automatic feeders, automatic drafting systems, computers, refrigeration and efﬂuent systems going in— there are now a lot more contractors that we have to manage.
“I’m the boss and I’m on-site looking after the build. You’re not talking to a foreman or someone relaying information.”
With much pride, Craig says he’s never let anybody down. There has never been a time when a farmer had a herd of cows bursting to be milked at the start of the season with the shed still under construction. While construction was in the family blood, Craig decided to go farming when he left school.
He spent a few years working on crop and sheep farms around Canterbury before realizing his calling and signing up for an adult apprenticeship with Pete Hood in Christchurch in 1987, one of the early specialists in farm buildings and sheds.
The next big step came following the snowstorms of 1992 when a mate’s farm buildings in Waiau suffered signiﬁ cant damage.
With two months worth of repair work in front of him, Craig handed in his notice and set up C & T Walker Construction Ltd – a move he’s never regretted and the work has never stopped ﬂ owing in.
Operating from Kaikoura to Tekapo, C & T Walker Construction specialises in dairy sheds, all farm buildings, cattle yards, feed pads, efﬂ uent systems, alterations to existing buildings and the occasional house. “Currently we’re building about ﬁ ve sheds a year.,” says Craig.
“I don’t have too many jobs on at anyone time, tending to ﬁnish one shed before moving on to the next one. That’s worked well for me.
“We normally give priority to the guys who are doing a full conversion and need an early start so they have somewhere to milk the cows.”
The company offers a full design-and-build service and also has many proprietary plans to choose from. Craig says that when it comes to house builds he works in with a designer if the client doesn’t already have plans.
Craig’s process is to sit down with the farmer and draw out what their needs are, working out the shape of the shed, its location and how many cows are involved.
“I’ll coordinate with all the people that need to be involved in the project and come up with a full package for the farmer. “Then I’ll start developing the project from the earthmoving right through to ﬁnal sign off.”