Contractor consolidates, looks for niche in market
ELECTRICIAN Ken Corfield began his business with a Holden one-tonne ute and a tool box in the back.
It was 1983 and business was done in a shed at Auckland St with his mum as his secretary.
These days Corfield's Electrical Service takes up space between Hanson Rd and Beckinsdale St, and Mr Corfield has his wife and his daughter working with him.
With a staff of up to 40 it has grown to be one of the largest electrical contractors in the central Queensland region.
In recent years during the LNG construction boom Corfield's was twice the size, but like most industry in town, it has had to consolidate.
"Big is not always best. We're constantly upskilling and looking for the niche in the market," he said.
"We're chasing the work to meet the abilities of our people. It's all about service, and looking after the clients you have."
Mr Corfield said the business had peaked at 88 employees with an $8 million job on the GLNG camp.
"ATCO built it and we came in as electrical contractors," he said.
"We were also invited over to Onslow on the Wheatstone LNG project. We've been out there for 18 months and fly men out constantly."
In 1998 he became the Gladstone delegate for the Electrical and Communications Association Queensland.
Mr Corfield has been recognised as a role model for "quality first" in the industry sector, picking up this year's Gladstone Engineering Alliance Wayne Peachey Memorial Award.
"We've picked up large awards, but I've never been given anything personally and I think that's what got me the wobbly boot on," he said.
"I used to know Wayne Peachey. For me it was huge, it was very rewarding - Wayne had the same mindset."
That mindset has included community work, as well as looking after hundreds of apprentices.
Corfield's Electrical Services has supported the Tannum Sands Surf Life Saving Club for 30 years, and this year completed an in-kind project to help with the refurbishment of the Nargoorin Hall among other things.
"I get a lot of pleasure out of helping people," he said.
Mr Corfield has mentored as many as 30 apprentices personally, and they tend to stay long term.
"I've got young guys out there who finished years ago and they're still working with me," he laughed.
"I often see young guys who pull up years later and it's nice to see them successful."
He said he saw himself as a business development manager.
"I've never been a manager that thought I had to live in a higher office."
At the end of the day he still carries his toolbox in his car.
"I'd rather be out fixing things and running around the workshop," he laughed.