Student climbs business ladder
A 22-year-old North Shore resident has overcome tremendous setbacks to found a construction-industry business with a big heart.
Israel ‘‘Izzy’’ Whitley is halfway through his business degree at Massey University in Albany, but that hasn’t stopped him from starting his own company, which he juggles between, and sometimes during, lectures.
Auckland Labour Hire is run almost entirely on Facebook, and Whitley describes himself as the ‘‘middle man’’ for hiring contractors out to building sites.
Whitley said it was his love of business, and knowledge of the building trade, that led him to start the company.
‘‘I come from a generation of builders,’’ Whitley said. ‘‘That, and football, is what I know best.’’
Whitley founded Auckland Labour Hire in August, 2016. It has since grown from two contractors to 35, expanded to Wellington, plus it is on track to turn over roughly $750,000 by its first anniversary. The business has become so busy, Whitley has had to hire four staff members, to make life easier during exam time.
But, it has been a tough journey for the 22-year-old business founder. Two years ago, when Whitley’s father committed suicide, he turned to football as his saviour. However, not long after that, Whitley had a suspected heart attack. When he was told he wouldn’t walk off another football pitch, if he played, he realised he had lost football too.
Positively, Whitley said these experiences contributed to his successes today.
‘‘In context, it’s those things I have learnt resilience from. There’s no way, if those things didn’t happen, I would be doing what I’m doing today.’’
Whitley’s experiences have influenced his business ethos too, and he has made a conscious effort to create the best environment for his workers.
‘‘My dad probably suffered for years with mental health issues and I had no idea.’’
Traditionally, the building industry is a tough place for the ‘‘Kiwi bloke’’ who doesn’t have feelings, he said. ‘‘So, I’m genuinely trying to create a better environment for my workers, even if that means taking a pie and a Coke to them at morning break.’’
Israel ‘Izzy’ Whitley, 22, has to juggle his time between his thriving start-up business and his exams.