A man of many trades
Sean started out bending steel in a factory after leaving school aged 15. “You would get a million rods and put a 90-degree bend in them, turn them over and put a 90-degree bend in the other side. I did that for a while, then I did plastic injection molding. Then I did welding, and then I was an oyster farmer.”
Born in England, he came to New Zealand as a baby, but has moved backwards and forwards between the hemispheres, along the way working as security for the Chelsea Football Club, and as a takeaway cook. “I never knew where I fitted so I just kind of did a bit of everything.”
Sean had a lightbulb moment when someone explained to him how an engine worked. “I really took it on board and went back to school and got my mechanic’s apprenticeship.”
He went on to sell cars, clean cars, work as a service advisor, and manage a workshop before joining the police force. He spent 10 years in the force, including five years as a constable in Alexandra, followed by a stint as a probation officer, which reinforced his belief that a creative outlet is essential for everyone and can steer people away from offending.
“I can’t draw to save myself so never thought I was artistic or creative,” says Sean. Then one day in 2012, the self-confessed hoarder was fiddling in his shed and came out with a ray gun made from an oil lamp, old electric drill, drawer handle, and corkscrew. Impressed with his handiwork, he put it up for auction on Trade Me. “It had over 10,000 views and sold for $300, and business skyrocketed from there.” Sean, who has lived in Clyde for the past 10 years where he shares the care of his 12-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter, took a break from science fiction a few years ago to work on a more practical invention — a high-tech, carbon-fibre snow sled that he saw as an alternative to snowboarding and skiing.
His Snolo Sleds business won third prize in the ANZ Flying Start competition and looked set to take off internationally “but didn’t fly in the end,” as other grown-ups were slow to catch on. Sean is now pretty much a full-time junk artist with a bit of window-cleaning thrown in “to get me out and talking to people”.
Doing some welding work on his Rocket Bike