Business Profiles

Huge support in name change for local civil infrastructure business

A new exciting era has begun at one of Hawke’s Bay’s most established civil infrastructure businesses, with a change in company name that better reflects its heritage, culture, tikanga and future direction.

The name change from Russell Roads to Tūpore Infrastructure was announced in late 2023 and has been met with a positive response from its 100+ workforce as well as clients, says chief executive and new director Gavin O’Connor.

Gavin says it was a big call to move away from a 50 year old company name – Russell Roads but timing was everything. Gavin says the decision for a name change was three-fold. Ownership changes which first begun when Robbie and Michelle Gale bought into the Russell family business in 2015 are now completed. The Gales took over full ownership in 2019 and at the end of 2023 Gavin and wife Katie were joined as business partners.

The business was also expanding its service offering from building road and pavements to land and river based quarry operations and operating one of only two asphalt plants in the region.

“It was a big shift (to change from Russell Roads) but it has been well received and has set a positive tone as we look to grow the business and position it as ‘best in sector’ as a full service civil infrastructure firm providing source material such as aggregate, manufactured product in Bitumen, through to building the roads and pavements across the region and beyond.

“We firmly and proudly know that what we do makes a positive difference, whether that be building safer road networks through to being a major employer and contributor within our community.”

Gavin says evidence that the new name is a winner came when staff working on the Devils Elbow cyclone rebuild between Napier and Wairoa proudly wrote it on the retaining wall they were constructing.













“We had a staff lunch on our first day back for the year and watched the company video that tells the story of our business and ‘our why’ and it was meet with a big round of applause.

“They’re proud to wear the badge. One of our young foreman came to me and said ‘we’re only as good as our last job’ so we’ve got to perform at our best on every project. Timing of the name change also coincides with securing a Waka Kotahi road safety project contract in Taupo, its first foray out of Hawke’s Bay.

Gavin says the business isn’t strongly focussed on an out of region growth strategy, but will take on opportunities should they arise as he’s mindful that Hawke’s Bay has a heavy infrastructure workstream with cyclone repairs of road and bridge networks is estimated to at over $800million.

“We don’t want to get over-excited about opportunities miles from home when there’s still lots to be done here.

We are in a strong position as we can supply materials to help with the rebuild as well as doing much of the work.” Gavin is hoping Tūpore is selected as a preferred civils contractor on the HDC cyclone rebuild programme.

Tūpore is also in the early stages of developing plans for a new asphalt plant in Omahu Road, Hastings, which will double current capacity and also minimise any environmental impact by using renewable energy sources.

“It will be a big boost for the region, especially with the materials required as part of the rebuild and the need for quality asphalt. The company is also hoping to gain resource consent for quarry operations on the Ngaruroro River, near Maraekakaho, which will ensure local supply of aggregate to meet huge demand.

It has a land-based quarry in Mohaka that will service infrastructure and build projects north of Napier; a river based consent for part of the Tukituki in the CHB catchment, but Gavin says it’s also vital to the industry to source from the proposed Maraekakaho quarry.

“That’s the 2024 goal to secure local aggregate supply that is secure and resilient with top quality construction materials, because the demand is huge. “We also need to start looking at our business and its long term future.

At the moment we have a heavy reliance on capital work, mostly provided by local authorities and government agencies.

“A maintenance and operations contract is a natural next step from the response and rebuild works we’ve been leading across Hastings and CHB.”

Current projects include safety improvements on SH5 between Awatoto and Marine Parade, silt remediation on behalf of Napier City Council and road widening on Waimarama Road. Robbie and Michelle are particularly proud that the success of the business has had a positive impact on their staff – providing career opportunities for many that have previously relied on Ministry for Social Development.

They introduced a profit-share for staff with end of year bonusses and have contributed in excess of $250,000 directly into the community through their charitable trust. “We’re proud to see new people joining the industry and coming in to our business including through our work with MSD which has helped return people to work and had the added benefit of increasing our female field workforce from 1 to 8,” Robbie says.

“The George Trust is also something that is very important to us, as we know many whanau are struggling financially and if we can make their lives a little bit easier, that’s a positive outcome for whanau and the entire community,” says Michelle.