Keeping it local

This article first appeared in Contractor magazine’s December issue.

A wife’s charitable nature sees an Ashburton contractor donating his time, money and equipment to his local community, and doing so happily. By MARY SEARLE BELL.

GRANT HOOD CONTRACTING is a smallish, Ashburton-based contracting firm that specialises in earthworks among other civil engineering projects.

The company was set up 14 years ago by husband and wife team Grant Hood and Carolyn Bond-Hood. Grant has more than 30 years’ experience in the industry, with many, many hours spent behind the controls of various big machines. He is managing director and takes care of the company, contracts and staff. Carolyn is also a director and is responsible for the business administration.

However, it is Carolyn’s spare-time activities that have Grant and the company helping out the community on a regular basis.

“We’re just like everyone says,” Carolyn says of their charitable work. “We just do these things.”

It seems that what usually happens is, Carolyn gets involved with an organisation or event and ends up volunteering more than just her time – she happily offers up Grant’s time and the company’s money and machines to support a good cause.

Mania-o-Roto Scout Hall.
Mania-o-Roto Scout Hall.

A case in point: A few years back, when their two sons were Cubs, Carolyn got involved with the Scouts and soon found herself on the committee – eventually in the role of secretary treasurer. At the time the scouting facilities comprised a number of rundown buildings that suffered from leaking roofs, rotten floors and no insulation, among other problems. Maintenance costs were high and it was obvious the buildings needed replacing.

A single, bigger and better building was wanted to serve the 270 and more Scout members in the Mania-o-Roto zone in mid-Canterbury. A new hall was needed, and to build it a significant amount of money had to be raised.

Naturally, Carolyn was on the committee to make this happen, doing her share to help raise the $600,000 required. Things were progressing well and consents were granted when the Christchurch earthquakes struck, changing council requirements for the project.

The upshot was that everything had to be raised, so Grant stepped in with his earthmoving gear. A local supplier gave them a good price on gravel and Grant spread and levelled it, placed piles and completed the foundations. He also helped lay the sewerage pipes, septic tank and drains, under the supervision of a registered drainlayer, and undertook the landscaping work. His time and machinery came free of charge.

But Carolyn is quick to point out that they were just a pair in a huge team of volunteers on this project.

“It’s amazing how many people have been through the scouting movement and are happy to help out.

“We calculate that over the five to six years this was built, the work put in by volunteers was equivalent to six people working full time for two years.”

Their huge efforts didn’t go unnoticed – the Mania-o-Roto Scout Zone won the 2014 Trustpower Ashburton District Community Supreme Award.

Trustpower community relations representative Emily Beaton said, “Through the Scout Hall project they have brought together scouting and non-scouting members of the Ashburton community and provided a facility that will benefit many for years to come.”

Grant’s earthmoving skills and machinery were also given to the community when the local showgrounds were deemed unusable following the earthquakes.

Grant Hood Contracting is a long-time sponsor of the Allenton Rugby Football Club senior B team, so when a new rugby pitch was needed, “Grant got his scrapers and built a new one”, says Carolyn.

It was a bit more than that – the site previously comprised two half-sized fields that kids played on. Turning it into a single pitch of a standard suitable for senior rep grades required trees to be removed and the field expanded, which Grant duly did. Another contractor stepped up to lay the grass.

Grant doesn’t always have to get out his digger when Carolyn volunteers him – sometimes it is simply a case of getting out the cheque book, as it was when the son of a staff member needed funds to get to the national claybird shooting championship. Or the port-a-loos, as it was in the case of the charity ball held in July to raise money to fight cancer.

“When I head out the door to go to a meeting for something or other he calls to me, ‘don’t volunteer for anything’,” laughs Carolyn. “Because he knows, anything I get involved in he has to too.”

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