Story by Hayley Leibowitz, Photos Gerald Shacklock

Auckland’s City Contractors has 34 trucks….but not one dedicated truck driver!

 

That’s even though transport is an integral part of this busy civil contracting operation.

 

As the name implies, City Contractors works in and around New Zealand’s biggest city – primarily doing water mains and roading.

 

MD and owner Mark Bason explains: “Our company philosophy is you don’t come here to do one job – you come here to be part of the team.

 

“So you need to know all the facets of it and you need to be experienced in everything. It’s difficult work. You’re digging around Chorus ducts and Vodafone ducts and power cables and gas lines.”

 

Trucks and drivers alike are equipped with all the skills and tools to carry out the specialised work they do.

 

And everyone employed by City Contractors is multi-skilled: “We don’t have a single person that all they do is drive. We do have a few guys who drive most of the time,” Mark explains.

 

City Contractors dates back to 1999, when three small companies got together to tender for a major footpath maintenance contract in Auckland. Whittaker Contracting, Nayler Contracting and Siteworx simplified things by working together under the City Contractors name.

 

They won the contract – “a big coup for them, because they were little guys at the time,” says Mark, who joined Whittaker Contracting a year later, to supervise and manage its contracts.

 

As a young bloke, Mark had earned a New Zealand Certificate in Civil Engineering, did a cadetship with Wilkins and Davies, then gained “fantastic experience” at a nuclear power station in the United Kingdom for close on five years.

 

“It was awesome. One site, 2500 workers, 22 mobile cranes and tower cranes, their own batching plant, their own steel plant. So it was a really eye-opening experience.” Returning to NZ, he did project management for HEB Construction, followed by more engineering and design work and an entry into contracting.

 

Fortuitously he met Bill Whittaker and contracted to him on health and safety: “That’s when he said ‘Hey, why don’t you come on board and we’ll make this bigger and better? I need another guy in my business. I can’t do it all myself. Join up with me and we’ll go from there.’ ”

 

Mark made the change and when the original maintenance contract came to an end, the three companies went their separate ways – with Mark and Bill retaining the City Contractors name.

 

“From there we started building our company,” says Mark, speaking from the Mount Wellington premises the company has occupied since 2001.

 

“We had six or seven guys then, plus Bill and myself and Bill’s wife. We started doing water main projects for Metro Water, back when it still existed.

 

“The company was built in those first five years by doing bigger and bigger projects, taking on more staff, buying more gear. Turnover increased, staff numbers increased and we were reasonably successful.”

 

In 2006 everything changed for Mark, when Bill “had a massive stroke” – prompting Mark’s purchase of the business: “I started running it myself and we’ve just grown from there.”...

 

 

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