Hawke’s Bay is a sea of traffic safety cones, temporary traffic lights or stop/go signs and alternative routes due to some major road and infrastructure projects.
There’s the Hastings water mains project, the Whakatu Arterial, the major roundabout on the Hawke’s Bay Expressway and the new entranceway into the airport – just to name a few. Then there’s the rollout of ultrafast fibre, a project that started about eight years ago.
Back then an ambitious 21-year-old was learning all he could about concrete and asphalt. Taurus Taurima was a labourer for local roading contractor but he had his sights set on operating his own contracting business.
Now aged 29, the Flaxmere born and bred is the proud owner of Topline Contracting, a business that has quickly hit the ground running.
Taurus left school at 16 years of age but what he doesn’t have in formal business skills, he’s got in business smarts, sound knowledge of the industry, strong work ethic and a desire to get new work based on a reputation of delivering on quality.
“When I started Topline Contracting I put my entire life savings into it.
“At the start I couldn’t afford concrete from the plant, so I was mixing cement bags with stones. Everyone else used machines but I had to go back to being old school and do it all by hand. Everything was very labour intensive.
“I focused on quality right from the start and if it didn’t go right, I wouldn’t argue about it, the job would just get redone.”
Working from the back of a car borrowed from a friend, Taurus’ first job was an exposed aggregate driveway for Jill Baddeley, a work colleague of his mum’s (Rahia Jessup) at Tremains Real Estate.
“Jill paid me before I started the job and I was determined to give her the best driveway in Havelock North.
“Since then she has been a great supporter and when she sells a house, she refers the new owners to me if they’re in need of a new driveway or hard landscaping such as concrete around a pool.”
Topline Contracting has grown rapidly from the days of Taurus and a mate working out of the back of a car to now employing over 20 staff and operating a large yard in Omahu Road and a fleet of 12 trucks, including a concrete mixing truck and other machinery.
Like getting the right mix when making concrete, Taurus has worked out the best approach to secure work. He’s also turned to his landlord and local businessman Kevin Bailey for mentor support.
Topline Contracting operates as a sub-contractor to some of the big national contracting firms as well as securing its own jobs, such as commercial and residential developments and landscaping projects.
“Our point of difference is that we are responsive. It was the only way I was going to get work; instead of saying to a customer that we will book you in, we tell them we will be there straightaway.”
As the work grew, Taurus has looked to provide jobs for those who have had a similar upbringing in Flaxmere. It’s a place he loves and although his family now resides in Havelock North, his commitment to Flaxmere and its people hasn’t dwindled.
“When I started I wanted to provide opportunities for others from Flaxmere. As the business has grown I’ve needed to bring on experienced people but there’s still staff that are either from Flaxmere or similar backgrounds.
Taurus isn’t going to stand in the way of any staff getting into business ownership, nor his own four children.
“I was once told by someone that I wouldn’t make it, but I thought I would give it a go and am now able to show my children that you can dream big and go out and do it.”
With the business on a growth trajectory, some key appointments are upping the professionalism of the business. Some staff are being trained into management roles while Taurus and contracts manager Daryll Pugh are driving the business into more challenging projects.
Topline Contracting knows its place in the local market. There’s plenty of work about with the region’s economy in a strong position.