WEL Networks business development manager Jack Ninnes has spent his entire working life – 50 years – at WEL Networks. Ninnes started as an electrical apprentice at the Central Waikato Electric Power Board in 1970. He talks about his 50 year tenure at WEL Networks, where he’s held a variety of roles.
“In those days, the power board did everything. It was like a manufacturing site that built things from the ground up, right through to the end product. We’d build the cross arms, drill them all, make the brackets that held the transformers on the poles – we had a complete operational setup.
The CWEPB had a head office in town that housed the administration, engineering and customer service teams. Our customers would come into the office to pay their power accounts and we sold a variety of products including electric ranges. Customers would put the price of the products onto their power bill and as part of the service we’d deliver and install them. It really was a one-stop shop.
Once I’d finished my apprenticeship I elected to stay in the office. I ended up in the advisory and development department, initially designing heating systems for houses and small commercial buildings. I enjoyed looking at new technologies, particularly the effects these were going to have on our future. As part of this, we were heavily involved in demonstrating these new technologies to the public so we’d have large stands at the Winter Shows and the Fieldays.
We’ve seen a lot of change. That’s why I’ve stayed. It’s been a never-ending conversion of new technology into real time applications. It’s given me great opportunities to grow with the new technologies, experience them and sell the concept to the marketplace.
WEL has always been nationally recognised as an innovative power company who were always on the leading edge of technology – the trendsetters. The projects we were involved with were years ahead of their time in terms of being rolled out commercially.
My days at WEL are almost finished but it’s been good fun – seriously good fun. For me it’s all about job satisfaction. It’s what you make of it. The company had a policy that supported you to do other things, particularly in the sporting environment.
I was fortunate enough to be able to pursue my passion of sailing and became part of the New Zealand Sailing team. I attended international events. They really supported people well including their apprentices which they still do today.”