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Visionaries create jobs

By Geoff Vause
[email protected]

John Braiden’s Carterton-based company leads the country in adapting vehicles for people with disabilities, and sets a standard in helping shape young people for the workforce.

The close-knit staff have helped build the Braiden International from humble beginnings, and their combination of design and precision engineering is a lure for young people who want solid employment and a sense of vocation.

Some have a desire to learn to weld and come as part of work experience from school, or hear from others about the work Braiden is doing and turn up looking for holiday work.

“It gives us the chance to see what their attitude is, how they will fit in and how willing they are to learn,” Mr Swanson said.

Learning on the job, and working to a high standard of precision can’t be taught at school, but the right attitude for the workplace can be nurtured by giving young people a look inside the industries in the community around them.

Braiden is one example of a number of Wairarapa companies needing to build their own workforce.

Coach-fitter John Braiden and his wife Sue kicked off after moving from Australia to Wairarapa in 1989.

Struggling to find work, he helped someone fit a wheelchair hoist to a vehicle and started designing and building his own in his father-in-laws’ dirt-floored workshop.

The company grew, and today turns over $6 million, employing 15 staff.

Braidens has perfected conversions for vehicles suited to the makeover, largely because of where the engine is.

These include Mercedes and Volkswagen, with each conversion effectively customised to the client using it.

Computer design and the subsequent engineering work includes wheelchair hoists, interiors, specialist and voice-activated self-drive adaptations, and expansion is inevitable.

The company has won a contract with a leading Australian vehicle adaptation company and is adding land and buildings at its site adjacent to Carterton railway station — a handy link for people dropping off vehicles.

“We need to consider how to get more staff in the pipeline to meet the expansion,” Mr Swanson said.

“We offer a general apprenticeship through a training organisation, and it means we can have workers learning on the job, picking up skills specific to what we do.”

Market winners like Braidens look at the expansion ahead of them, and look at how young people still in school might fit with them down the track.


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