In the first of our staff bios we're catching up with Cam van den Broek, Rob May Building's very first employee and apprentice, who started with us way back in 2006. The company has evolved heaps since then, so it’s really interesting to see how Cam has evolved from apprentice boy to foreman over that same time.
So Cam, firstly tell us what on earth made you decide to want to become a builder? And why did you choose to work for Rob May?
I started out doing some holiday work for Jono when I was 17. He and my Dad are good mates, and after a couple of weeks at it Jono asked me if I wanted an apprenticeship. I had to think about it for a bit but eventually said yes.
So it wasn’t a career path you had planned out from Kindy or anything?
Nah, I didn't have a clue what I wanted after school or what I’d do otherwise so I thought I might as well get something under the belt.
I think that was a great call by the way. It’s funny thinking all the way back then and trying to remember how that felt aye, making that big call to choose a career. What’s one of your earliest memories of working at Rob May way back then?
You could say I was pretty quiet when I started and got the mick taken out of me as any apprentice would. I wouldn’t say much to start with and I’d just laugh about it, but before long I gave back as good as I got.
Well you were a 17-year old used to the company of other 17-year olds at school, and all of a sudden you’re the only youngster surrounded by big gruff burly men. That’s pretty freaky aye?
Yeah, but within a year we had another apprentice who was about my age start (Shaun Tuffery) and we became good mates straight away. Although our styles were completely different we made a surprisingly good team as we complemented each others strengths and weaknesses. It was great to have someone to spin yarns and just have fun at work with and they were pretty good times.
You definitely came out of your shell when Shauny came along, that was cool to see. You guys made an interesting and funny pair.
How has the type of work Rob May does changed in the 8 years you've been with us?
I was fortunate to be mostly doing high-end residential builds and very involved alterations, so it was an ideal environment to hone my skills and learn a huge amount in a short time. This kind of work has continued for most of the time I’ve been here, really involved high-end stuff.
And you’ve learnt plenty through all that intricate stuff too, yeah?
Yeah totally. And as more people came to work for us I began to work my way up to foreman and effectivley 2nd in command to Jono. I’ve basically been at Rob May since the start so its kinda cool to know I’m not just someone who came along, but someone who helped make Rob May what it is today.
Yeah for sure Cam, I think you epitomise the Rob May ethic of doing things really well and to a really high standard. So what do you reckon are the best parts of being a builder?
The thing I like most about being in charge of things is getting better at dealing with people on site, solving issues that arise during projects, and getting to do things how I want it done and to my standards. I love a good challenge and thrive off figuring out and doing the most difficult tasks to a high standard. Best thing about work is showing my craft to others, and the people I work with.
Worst part is it’s physically demanding on the body, but hey, gotta stay in shape somehow!
Is building something you see yourself continuing to do till you’re 65? Or do you have other goals and ideas?
Don't really know how long I'll build for, or whether its something I want to keep doing as I get older. I’m keen to stay in the industry whether it’s as a business owner, in management, or even broaden my skills and head for something like architecture. Who knows. Plenty to do and see out there.