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A Custom-ised business

Custom-ised business | House construction

In this “Diversity in Fencing” feature article Custom Fencing’s Nick Terry talks about how the formation of Custom Construction has expanded his business into residential and lifestyle projects.

11th November 2011 is a bit of a big deal in my business life. It was on this day that Custom Fencing Ltd had its first day of trading. Then 9 years later little did I know that a new venture called Custom Construction 2020 LTD would have its first day of trading also.

How do you go from fencing to building I hear you ask?

Well, it’s not by getting good at doing stays and then applying for your LBP licence I can tell you that for sure!

The idea of Custom Construction came about by employing a mate (Tame) who I had met through playing rugby.

He had already been building for around 9 years with 6 of those working as a qualified builder in the same area as myself. Work for his old employer had dried up a bit and he had found himself doing jobs that he wasn’t really enjoying.

So, as we were sitting down having a beer (where most good ideas come from) I said “Come and do a few weeks for us, help us catch up on a few residential jobs”. One thing led to another and then he was asking me for a job.


Heard it on the grapevine

As the grapevine did its job, word got around that I had a Qualified builder on staff. Next thing I found myself getting asked to price out decks and house renovations, to which I had no idea about where to start: how long it was going to take, any variables etc. So, as you do, the two of us sat down for a beer (Speights, if you were wondering) and had a work out of materials and labour etc and put our first price in. All this was taking place while Tame was driving up a driveway to complete a building job in a ute with “Custom Fencing” written on the side… not the best look in the world.

The only real way to fix this problem was to form another company. Not a lot of point in a fencer solely owning a building company though, because if the builder left, I would end up with jobs on the books I couldn’t complete, letting down clients. So Custom Construction was formed and Tame was given a share in the company and the responsibility of the day to day running of the company. With there being a massive shortage of builders around our area I could see that as long as we provided a good service, then work wasn’t going to be too much of an issue.

So, although still very early days, things have been going very well. We currently have another self-employed builder on the books along with two apprentices and a workload leading well into 2022. There is one job they’re currently working on that they’re not making much money out of though – that’s building my house! Smokos and after-work beers are reasonably frequent though!


Tartan paint and other learnings

Personally, I’ve had to spend more time away from the fence line and more time in front of the computer. Which to be completely honest isn’t the reason I got into business – I never thought I’d spend more time in an office than with a hammer in my hand. But look at me now – learning about joist hangers and soffit joiners. Already knew about tartan paint so had that one sorted!

I’m enjoying the new challenge of running two businesses and learning more about bookkeeping, percentage of profit etc (especially on a day like today when it’s snowing outside). Even if you are a one-man-band I would really encourage you to look into your own books and your percentage of profit. And if you’re not too sure what you’re looking at talk to someone like “Next Level Tradie” – I’ve had a few meetings with Daniel and he’s been a huge help.

I’m really lucky that I have great staff working for both companies but in particular, the fencing lads that have been with me for a number of years and know what they are doing and accept nothing but the best from each other. It’s the two old stories: surround yourself with good people and life will be rosy; and, it’s not what you know it’s who you know!

Article provided by:
Nick Terry
Custom Fencing Ltd & Custom Construction 2020 Ltd

Custom Fencing (Custom Construction)

Published in the Diversity in Fencing feature of WIRED December 2021 by Fencing Contractors NZ