Being new to a country is hard enough. Top it with running your own trades company and raising kids with special needs, takes real strength.
Puna Ngarua, 42, has been a steel fixer for the last 2 decades and the journey has been nothing less than a roller coaster ride.
Raised in the Cooks Island, Puna moved to Australia 20 years ago.
“My love for outdoors led me to construction sites, where I could spend most of my time enjoying the lovely Sydney weather,” recalls Puna.
Few years went by and Puna decided to move to Melbourne.
For 17 years, the steel fixer continued to work for builders, but that came at the cost of giving up his work-life balance.
“My wife and I have 4 kids and 3 of our children have special needs. At the end of the day, nothing is more important than your family. It was time for me to stop working for others and start my own business,” says Puna.
It’s been 3 years since Puna started Y40 Steel Fixing and it’s the best decision he ever made.
“Working for myself allows me to set my own working hours, pick which projects to work on and be around more often for my kids.”
But starting your own business never comes without its challenges.
“For me the biggest challenge was attracting and keeping the right staff. It’s taken a couple of years but I finally feel like I have the right team.”
Puna would not trade this experience for any other.
“Every day is a good day on site. I enjoy meeting new people and I get great satisfaction out of seeing a project completed. I now also have more time to get involved in a local community group which supports autistic families, something that’s very close to my heart.”
Puna’s business also sponsors the local community group to run an awareness walk for the community on World Autism Awareness Day.
Being a steel fixer is one thing but running a business is a different ball game altogether. Starting out on your own requires you to master various skills and wear many hats at the same time.
“My proudest achievement so far is being able to look back to the day I decided to start a business and see how much I have learnt,” says Puna. “I have had to learn to be a bookkeeper, a secretary, an estimator, scheduler and so much more! I can’t wait to see where Y40 Steel Fixing is in another 3 years.”
Tradie Life is a growing community group run by i4Tradies. It’s a place for you to talk about whatever's important to you as a tradie. Be it your personal life challenges, questions on how to improve your business, your journey so far, volunteer work, being a female tradie, work-life balance, what you like to do when you are not working. Pretty much anything that matters to you and you want an answer to it from veteran tradies who have walked in your shoes.