Meet S & R Penney construction
After years of working as a contractor with no consistent stream of projects or income, Shane Penney (Te Rarawa), supported by his wife Reina (Te Rarawa, Ngāpuhi, Maniapoto), decided to start a building company and gain more control over their family’s future. Armed with three decades of experience, the founders of S & R Penney Construction are eschewing the typical Western business model for growth, to instead lift others up and create a legacy of great Māori builders.
The Penney’s started S & R Construction in 2016 with one employee, Shane. He had been in the trade for 33 years, having worked alongside his builder father from a young age. His work saw him cross between residential and commercial, gaining an array of skills and a lifetime of experience. While that got him work, it wasn’t enough to secure him the kinds of jobs he knew he was capable of doing, so in 2002 Shane decided to take up study at MIT to gain his formal qualifications.
“When you don’t have your ticket, lots of people take advantage of you,” says Shane as he recollects his decision to go back to school.
“I learned the hard way that experience isn’t enough in this industry, it opens you up to being used and ripped off. And while that might seem negative, I used it to drive me to be better, not just for myself, but for my business and my staff.”
The first contract under the business was in jibbing. The couple worked hard and Reina focussed her time to support business growth, marketing and sales while on maternity leave from her day job in social policy. Operating in Auckland over the past three years, the business now employs a team of 12-20 mostly Māori staff.
The values of aroha and manaakitanga are priority for Shane and Reina. In addition to ensuring their workers get well paid, the couple also support their team by helping to buy new tools up front, easing the initial costs associated with starting in the industry. They also provide kai onsite and support offsite when they can.
“The investment into our team is all worth it. We spend money on manaakitanga, to help get them on their feet and stay on their feet. We are keen on growth but not at the expense of wellbeing. We want to take our team along with us so we all succeed together. As a business we do not realise much profits due to the fact we pass on most of the benefits to our workers by paying them well. Whānau ora is for us as well as everybody else”.
As subcontractors to large established construction companies S & R Penney Construction have recently been working on large scale jobs in Auckland CBD.
“There are 480 people on-site at our current contract. The leadership at Hawkins is awesome, they have developed Shane’s leadership, allowed us to develop our team and, are actively helping us out as a Māori business.” says Reina. Shane Adds: “It’s cool when we drive around with our kids and they point at all the
buildings we have built over the years. Between my dad and I, we’ve done a lot in Auckland, in some places, its most of the buildings on the street.”
Reina and Shane say the business will only ever grow as much as they can keep ensuring everyone on their team is developing and growing as well.
“We want to create a legacy of great Māori builders. Not just from our whānau, we want to give Māori builders access to this industry, upskilling them because it’s a good career.”
Story and photos by Qiane Matata-Sipu. http://www.qiane.co.nz/