Ben Maxwell, apprentice carpenter with Designer Homes Northland Ltd, was named the Registered Master Builders Carters 2006 Apprentice of the Year winner for the Auckland region in October. Nine regional winners were announced at awards ceremonies held nationwide.
Ben says receiving the award was an “awesome” feeling. When Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation Auckland region training advisor Mallan Ruka told him he was in the running for the award, he knew he wanted to win. “I always try my hardest in everything I do and I worked even harder for this. Winning was my goal and, hey, I did it! My family and I are proud as,” Ben says.
Entrants were judged on practical skills, knowledge of the building sector and materials, and communication skills. Endorsements from their employer and training institution were also considered.
Mr Ruka says the award confirms to him that Ben is an up-and-coming industry leader.
“He stands out in the crowd, he has an all-round capability, including the design talent and ability, relates to people well, and also has a good business head on him already.”
Ben has wanted to be a builder ever since helping his dad build their home a few years ago. “It gave me a taste for all things woodwork and for working outside,” he says.
In his last year at school, he participated in the Gateway programme. “I spent half a day per week for three months with a builder and liked it very much. So when I left school, I got a building job,” he says.
Six months later he was offered an apprenticeship with another company, and soon thereafter shifted to Designer Homes Northland Ltd, where he has been working for the past two years. He has completed the theory component of the carpentry apprenticeship and, in May next year, will have gained the compulsory 36 months practical experience.
Ben, like the other regional winners, received participation in the Outward Bound Leadership Programme to the value of $3500, a scholarship towards completion of study or postgraduate study to the value of $2000, apprenticeship membership of the Registered Master Builders Federation for one year and a range of DeWalt, Patience & Nicholson and Stanley Tools from Carters. He plans to use the scholarship to do an Architectural Diploma at Auckland Polytechnic.
Interest in design
“I have been drawing up my own plans for a while. I’ve had an interest in design work since Form 6. My boss, Murray, recently bought our office new CAD software and after I played around with it a while I figured it out.
“Our other employee and I then helped Murray design his house. I drew up all the plans. In the meantime I’ve also done similar work for other clients and I’m also drawing up a set of plans for my parents,” Ben says.
Born in Kawakawa and educated in Okaihau, Ben hopes to open his own Northland-based design and building business in a few years.
“This will take hard work and the right attitude. I have good work ethics, but you’ve also got to know the business side. Fortunately my dad and my boss are teaching me everything I need to know. I hope winning this award will help put my name out there,” he says.
Designer Homes Northland owner Murray Sutherland says Ben deserves the award. “The fact that he won it speaks for itself. He’s an asset to the company, he’s an eager worker, is always willing to learn something new, and he always gives his best.”
Murray established Designer Homes Northland, a small company designing and building houses, 15 years ago.
“We get all our work through word of mouth. Ben, having won this award, is another huge compliment to us, and we are very proud of him.”