Last Friday, Jono McCullough and his team were standing on the banks of Lake Karapiro supporting two of New Zealand’s top rowers.
“We looked like road cones,” Jono remarks, in reference to the orange builders’ high-vis vests the team was kitted out in.
They were backing eights rowers Stephen Jones and Lucy Spoors, who are brand ambassadors for Jono and wife Paula’s Cambridge company, Rob May Builders.
The New Zealand rowers were completing final preparations before heading to Europe for two World Rowing Cup events in June and July.
On Friday, Lucy and Stephen had enthusiastic support from a full complement of 18. Not only that, but the firm built Stephen his house, and since then he has been with them as brand ambassador for about three or four years.
There’s a sporting theme running right through the building company’s extensive support for its community.
It’s been a while since Jono took to the cricket field, but they sponsor all the club cricket in Cambridge, with juniors through to seniors pulling on Rob May branded shirts when they take the field. “It’s great to see the club is thriving and kids getting out and enjoying their sport.”
Rounding out the picture, they sponsor a netball team from Cambridge East Primary and also one of the town’s netball courts – court six is Rob May Builders Court.
“It’s great seeing girls and boys learning the discipline of team sport.”
Paula is Cambridge born and bred, while Jono hails from Katikati, and they’ve been running their Cambridge business since 2005 so they have a strong base for their community support.
A builder for 32 years, Jono is also keen to play his part in training the next generation and they have eight apprentices, and take on a new one most years. “I think we’ve had about 14 apprentices past and present. And we’re big on it because the industry needs to bring young guys through. I got trained, I got put through my time, so I need to give back.
“So that’s part of our community. We like to, as much as possible, give young guys in the community the opportunity.”
Some stay on, including the firm’s foreman, Cameron van den Broek, who got his start as their first apprentice, and first employee.
The apprentices learn their trade working on restorations as well as new builds.
“Top end architectural homes are what we do,” Jono says.
The firm has two new houses in the St Kilda subdivision with two more at Norfolk Downs, and a couple of big house builds at Karapiro. The focus is residential, though it also works on retirement complexes.
They could hardly be based in a better place, as Cambridge booms.
“It’s got great atmosphere, great location, and it’s a vibrant town,” Jono says.
“Cambridge has a buzz about it. We’ve got so much here – Lake Karapiro is such a massive thing for us.
“And you’ve got the athletes. So you’re in a town that’s got top class athletes and you walk down the street and you see them and say gidday to them. For kids, that’s pretty special. And I think that all adds to the vibe of the place. It’s great for us, great for business and great to be a part of.
“I love Cambridge, eh?”