The Pukekohe local specialises in solar power, heating and ventilation systems for residential, commercial and rural buildings. Alongside larger contracts with Stonewood Homes and The Young Group and, work with small building companies and private clients, HLS ltd looks after a number of tenancy contracts throughout the region.
“Heating and ventilation is a basic need and can help overcome a lot of the health issues tenants experience,” says Tom (Ngati Porou). “We used to visit 1500 homes a year. Having a positive effect on the wellbeing of those families is an important part of our job.”
Tom started his contracting career in 1993. He began as an electrician and electrical inspector before eventually moving into the building trade. He gave himself 12 months to refocus, establishing an electrical contracting business and building up enough work to fill a 40 hour week. But, when the market crashed in 2009, the work dried up.
The recession hit hard and with three children at home, he needed to move quickly. He started working as a handyman doing odd jobs and minor office renovations. He also starting installing range hoods, bathroom fans and solar tubes for a nationwide company and has rebuilt his business on the back of this type of work.
Wife Vivienne soon came on board as a co-director for HLS and their son Adam became the first employee. More joined the team over the next 10 years.
“One day I looked up and we had managed to position ourselves stronger than ever before,” shares Tom. “The recession was a scary time, but we survived. We’ve come out better for it and it has made us more giving.”
Now, through the business, Tom is trying to help others.
He recruits many of his staff from Manukau Institute of Technology. He looks for graduates with a bit of life experience behind them, who are wanting to make a change.
“I pride myself on giving guys a chance,” adds Tom. “One goal was to help one of our workers into home ownership. Another was to get a pair of brothers closer to receiving their trade qualifications.”
Office manager Gillian, adds: “He loves his extended family. He helped me rebuild my life after cancer, by giving me a job here. It was just what I needed to help me feel normal again.”
“There are many people out there that need a break and it would be great to offer them more work,” says Tom.
With that in mind and, backed by a secure reputation in the industry and strong client base, Tom wants to see the business grow.
In preparation, HLS ltd have this year begun working towards a greener image. They are supporting their clients in a move to more energy efficient LED lighting, while also growing the solar power side of the business.
“I have been doing this for more than 40 years now and I want to be doing something I believe in,” adds Tom. “I travelled to Europe in 2017 and they are well ahead of us in their solar projections and clean energy. I have four grandchildren and I don’t want them to grow up in an environment that has been destroyed by our generation. Our company will be moving into delivering more services that make a positive difference to the health of our people and, our planet.”