Feature: Fencing as a career

Good pay level, unrivalled working conditions, and a great lifestyle are just some of the benefits of choosing fencing as a career

The team from Tekapo-based Monk Fencing recently completed a 17km fence on Simons Pass Station, which included more than 6km of rabbit netting for pest control

Ask any fencing contractor why they chose fencing as a career and the reply almost always includes the good pay level, unrivalled working conditions with a different view most days, work that allows for a great lifestyle (with weekends generally free for family or hunting/other pursuits), and the satisfaction of looking back on your workmanship and a job well done.

Phil Cornelius, owner of CPC Fencing and President of Fencing Contractors NZ (FCNZ), the industry body for fencing contractors, points out that the skills offered by the industry are in much demand.

“Skilled fencers are in demand, and the fencing industry is experiencing a skills shortage, which means there’s a lot of opportunities for workers to enter the industry and be well supported by their employers,” says Phil.

The rural sector continues to grow and diversify with pest control, water protection, and regeneration projects, creating an increasing demand for skilled rural fencing contractors. The residential sector historically saw a lot of fencing work being undertaken by builders, however, customers are now recognising the importance of engaging specialist fencing contractors

“It’s time for fencing contractors doing quality work to shine,” says Phil. Diversification into shed building, horticultural structures, viticulture work, associated earthworks, and services is also noticeable within the FCNZ membership.

Twenty years ago, CPC Fencing was a team of one. Now, CPC owner Phil Cornelius has a crew of 18 across five fencing crews working on a diverse range of projects.

Every day is different

No fencing contractor will ever claim that the work is easy, but the variety of locations and the reasons for the fences make the physicality of the job more enjoyable. In fact, there are few other careers in which you can see the end result taking shape so quickly – an aspect that’s of huge satisfaction to many fencing contractors.

Multiple career paths

Fencing contractors come from a variety of backgrounds and there is no “right way” to move into the industry. Many grow up in rural areas and are drawn to the trade, while school-leavers often come straight from secondary school and start as general labourers within fencing crews while they learn the trade.

The Certificate in Fencing Level 3 provided by NorthTec provides graduates with practical skills and knowledge that are highly valued by employers. It’s an excellent way to gain a solid understanding of the theory of rural fencing and on-site, hands-on training.

Many fencing contractors have come from other careers, choosing to change to a career that allows them an enjoyable lifestyle with good remuneration. Whatever route is taken, the rewards are considerable.

Mike Renner and the Renner Fencing team installed thousands of strainers and stays at a Marlborough vineyard

A connected industry

Established in 2006, Fencing Contractors NZ aims to raise the profile and standards of the fencing industry, grow the market for fencing contractors and others associated with the industry, and ensure Fencing Contractors NZ is the first port of call for those seeking a fencing contractor.

FCNZ keeps members in touch with the latest fencing products, technical information, trends, and developments, including access to best practice guidelines, templates, and codes of practice. 

In addition, the association hosts a variety of informative and networking events throughout the year, including an annual conference and Fencing Best Practice Days throughout the country, which provide information on new fencing techniques, health and safety, product feedback, pricing, and technical information.

Mike Renner, an FCNZ board member, appreciates the value of the FCNZ events.

“I love the social side of FCNZ events, catching up with like-minded people, having a yarn, running ideas past people, getting opinions, not to mention making new friends who you can ring for advice when needed,” he says.  

“It’s such a great industry to work in. To be able to step back at the end of the day and see what you’ve physically accomplished is so rewarding.”

To find out more about Fencing Contractors NZ and to find a local contractor, visit fcanz.co.nz.
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