Build fu­ture with hands-on ap­proach

The Weekend Post - - Business - ALI­CIA NALLY

GARY Riches put on his tool­belt at age 13 to help his fa­ther in the build­ing trade.

The 58-year-old went on to com­plete a car­pen­try ap­pren­tice­ship and never looked back, es­tab­lish­ing his own build­ing busi­ness, Gary Riches Builders, 35 years ago.

A car­pen­ter works in the con­struc­tion and re­pair of both com­mer­cial, res­i­den­tial and in­dus­trial build­ings.

Car­pen­ters build, in­stall, re- pair and erect wooden frames, foun­da­tions, walls and other struc­tural el­e­ments.

“When I was a kid work­ing with my dad, I felt like the rich­est kid in school when I’d buy my ham­burger and Coke with my own money, but you’d work un­til 7 o’clock,” he said.

“The young ones these day are go­ing away from the trades be­cause their par­ents want to send them to univer­sity but if you have too many aca­demic peo­ple, who will build ev­ery­thing?

“There’s a lot of op­por­tu­ni­ties in this job – you do an ap­pren­tice­ship and be­come a car­pen­ter, then you can be a self-em­ployed car­pen­ter and then a builder if you want.

“I’m 58 and I just love it. I’m still hands-on and I do all the pa­per­work my­self.”

Mr Riches and his em­ploy­ees can list the West­court Tav­ern and the roof struc­ture of the Cairns Con­ven­tion Cen­tre among their best work.

But the re­fur­bish­ment of the Cham­bers com­plex on the cor­ner of Lake and Spence streets is one of his most ex­cit­ing projects.

“I en­joy see­ing some­one get their house, it’s a buzz when you see their face light up,” he said.

“You can make a good liv­ing out of 25-30 hours a week.

“But it’s hard man­ual work and your body, if you’re not care­ful, it’ll wear out. It is also not a con­sis­tent job, but if you’re good at your trade and you’re con­sci­en­tious you’ll al­ways have work.”

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