Paul Bisset of Whitestone Contracting will bring his experience in civil construction businesses large and small to the CCNZ Executive Council after being elected on 30 July, following a nomination from the CCNZ Otago Branch.
He said he is looking forward to it immensely.
“It’s an industry that has given me a lot of opportunities over the years. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to give something back. I have been fortunate to have worked with, past and present, some great people.”
After working in the industry for the past 25 years, he has been involved with CCNZ Otago Branch for around five years and currently serves on the Otago Branch Executive.
Paul was born in Twizel during the years of the upper Waitaki hydro projects. His father worked for the Ministry of Works which saw the family move around various projects across the country before settling in Cromwell in 1980 for the Clyde Dam project.
Although he was brought up surrounded by the construction industry, like many school leavers he didn’t know what he wanted to do in life until he tried a few different things. After a brief period surveying, he headed to Otago Polytech to start studying towards his NZCE (Civil).
He went on to join Works Civil Construction in Alexandra and see its transformation to Works Infrastructure and then Downer EDI Works. His most memorable moments on the job include the 1999 Otago floods and the Nevis Bluff slip, along with the repair works that followed both events.
He was then involved with smaller contractors Faulks Enterprises and then Benchmark Construction over the next 10 years, managing projects across Otago and Southland. With between 10 and 30 staff, it was a very different to the big corporate companies, and an enjoyable period in his career.
“Involvement with the Faulks family was great, very down to earth people with high standards and solid values in their business. We carried out works mainly based in Queenstown on ski fields, subdivision and other earthworks projects.”
He said he learnt a lot about looking after the client and seeing things through their eyes in private works. A highlight with Benchmark Construction was a project in Milford Sound subcontracting to Downer to raise the Milford worker village around five metres to protect it from the Cleddau River.
“We had a great team on site, they laid all new utilities and services and installed a five-metre deep sewer pump station right next to the Sound in very tough conditions. We got there in the end. The Milford environment and logistics of working in there made it a challenging and rewarding project.”
He moved on to Fulton Hogan in 2012, working as a Divisional Manager in Surfacing and Construction, then Central Otago Regional Manager and finally Senior Project Manager for the lower South Island.
Paul took on a role with Whitestone Contracting in February 2019, where he is currently Executive Manager - Central Otago and Deputy Chief Executive based in Cromwell. Whitestone Contracting has been fully supportive of Paul’s involvement with CCNZ.
He says that working through the mid-2000s in the housing boom and then the global financial crisis gave an insight into “the good the bad and the ugly” of contracting, and the experience has helped him build a good understanding of the challenges faced by contractors big and small.
“As an industry, we need to ensure opportunities exist for smaller contractors to aspire to strategically grow and position themselves to bid for the larger projects on a level playing field.”
Paul is looking forward to getting involved at the Executive Council level through governance of CCNZ as the representative organisation for civil contractors of all sizes.
“I feel really privileged to take up a role on the exec. I’m looking forward to being part of the team and taking on the challenges we’ve got ahead.”