From trainee to trainer

When James Barber saw an advert for a glazing job at Howick Glass, Auckland twelve years ago, he certainly didn’t envisage that his application would eventually lead to him running a Glass and Glazing company. 

James BarberIn 2006 James decided he didn’t see a future for himself in Quality Assurance so he decided to give glazing a go. Fast forward to 2018 and James is now the proud owner/operator of Howick Glass, a small but successful glass and glazing company where all staff are either qualified or currently in training. 

When James was growing up he didn’t want to be a glazier, but he knew he wanted a trade. “I very much fancied the outdoor working life and glazing appealed with its daily movement between jobs,” says James. “Wayne Bennie was the business owner at the time, and he saw something in me and gave me a chance. After labouring for 24 months I signed up with BCITO to do my apprenticeship.” After three years of learning on the job under Wayne’s expert guidance and a couple of trips to Naenae for block courses, James became a qualified glazier.

In 2017, Wayne decided to retire from the industry and James jumped at the opportunity to take over the business. James says, “Life as an employer is challenging, but I enjoy it every day.” In the last couple of years, James has gained a real insight into the business side of glass and glazing as well as developing a lot of relationships in the industry. “I’ve developed a passion for glass, I am still on the tools every day and want to be a role model to my staff,” says James. His staff include three qualified glaziers and Mohammed Farad, an apprentice.

Mohammed is new to the glass and glazing industry, and it was James who gave him a trial when he expressed an interest in the trade. Mohammed says, “James has been very helpful and supportive regarding my training. He has made my start to a career in glazing seamless.” The modern and wide scope of work Mohammed gets to cover working for James has made him very excited about his future in glazing and the benefits he is getting from his apprenticeship.

When it comes to staff training, James is a firm believer that the right training can lead a person in the right direction, not only at work but also in other aspects of their life. BCITO Training Advisor Jack Griffith says, “James is a meticulous trainer, a great role model for his staff and he is a worthy representative of the glass and glazing industry.”

When asked for advice for other employers considering taking on an apprentice, James says, “Give them a chance, with the right support, training and attitude you can help anyone become a good tradesperson.” 

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