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.’’

Visit auck­land­


Is­rael ‘Izzy’ Whit­ley, 22, has to jug­gle his time be­tween his thriv­ing start-up busi­ness and his ex­ams.

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