SIMON DAVIS, the owner of North Coast Fencing in New South Wales, talks with THE FENCE about his fencing business.
How did you get into the fencing industry?
Well that’s a long story, my father was a fencer, my grandfather was a fencer, one uncle, about three cousins are all fencers. They had their own timber mills as well.
Back in the early 70s they moved out of country NSW into the city to work. They were all fencing down there, and predominantly doing housing commission timber fences so I spent a lot of time as a child working with Dad, doing bits and pieces just helping out.
The last thing I wanted to do was to become a fencer, I used to hate it as a kid.
I started doing a bit of fencing on the weekends and it grew from there. I stepped into that arena and realised pretty quickly I couldn’t just specialise in timber. I had to spread out into all the domestic areas so I talked myself into doing all of those as well.
I had that background anyway, I knew how to set it up, I just had to teach myself how to get into that next level and how to pull it all together.
With different mentors, I actually worked with a couple of other fencers as a sub-contractor, so I’ve been out on farms a few times and out west doing a lot of fencing as well, and then it all went from there.
What is the most rewarding thing about your fencing work?
The best thing about being a fencer is that nine times out of ten you can be in a different place every 2 or 3 days, unless you get a really big job then you’re in the one spot for a long time, so that’s pretty rewarding for me, moving around to different places, I like that freedom.
And variety. Definitely variety. I love being my own boss. I’ve never really worked for anyone else. I like to be in control of my own destiny so that’s pretty rewarding.
Where do you think the fencing industry is heading?
I think, personally, if we can get the standards and the skills to a certain level where we can become a qualified trade, it’ll get rid of a lot of the yahoos.
It’s very hard to police, because traditionally rural fences don’t need a license, domestic / residential fences do need a licence, and then there’s metal fencing and masonry fencing, and glass fencing and steel fencing.
I think now they come under one banner.
It needs to sharpen up and bring people in so there are more skilled tradesmen and more skilled fencers out there, and not just backyarders starting up and undercutting everybody.
It’s hard. It’s a very competitive industry anyway, everybody seems to be trying to outdo and undercut one another and I think that’s the wrong way to go.
What has been your most interesting fencing job?
Well there’s two that come to mind. One was at Emigrant Creek Dam.
I had to fence across a spillway, so I was up on the wingwalls of the dam, putting in security fencing on there and had to concrete through a foot of water to try and get posts into the rotten rock and the armor that was there on the sides of the batters, so that was very interesting.
What made that one even more interesting was it was only early days for me when I did that one, I think it was one of my first chainwire jobs actually, and we were doing it for the Water Board.
We were too far away from home so they wouldn’t let us camp on their site, so I went and saw the farmer about camping on his property on the other side of the dam.
We used to go and have a bath in the spillway each night, so during the day the snakes were all in the spillway and at night they were all gone. It was in the middle of summer too.
The other one that comes to mind was fencing a lot of the Currumbin Bird Sanctuary. I did a quarantine section there for them. They were sending wallabies and kangaroos over to China and Japan, so they had to be quarantined by electric fences and wire fences.
That one was very interesting because there was an emu that took a liking to me and kept chasing me around the park every time I was there. That job was probably 12 years ago and the fencing is still standing.
What’s the best thing about FENCiT?
I think the best thing about FENCiT is that we’re finally getting the industry body and support around us – FENCiT has provided that for us.
I think that it is an absolutely brilliant concept and hopefully it gets a lot more backing so we can take the fencing skillset into a trade based quality job.
I think FENCiT is on the right track pushing for that qualification.
FENCiT is also bringing fencers together. For years, we haven’t had anywhere to go.
This article was first published in The Fence magazine.