There are some professions that get a rough deal  – that are perceived by some in negative ways because of past experiences or through word of mouth. Tradespeople are one such sector and in my opinion the vast majority of them would have to be some of the most hard working, dedicated and personable types that I have met. The reality of this new normal, post Covid-19 lockdown has put that into even greater focus.

We are called NoCowboys to easily encapsulate what our website is for – a platform where Kiwis can choose to engage tradespeople and businesses on the basis of their reviews from past customers. To make the right choices, rather than to engage a cowboy – resulting generally in poor work, disappointment and in the worst cases, financial loss.

We have thousands of registered businesses all over New Zealand that build, create, improve, solve problems and satisfy (and exceed) consumers’ expectations. We talk to business owners regularly – from sole traders, SMEs, all the way up to nationwide operations. I have found over they years that what they make and do is more of a craft than a profession. And they work damnably hard at it. The cliche of being up before the crack of dawn and getting home after the sun sets is a reality and I admire the daily dedication to work and provide services and solutions that Kiwis want.

When New Zealand went into an unprecedented lockdown at the end of March, tradespeople and service providers had little idea what to expect and most would have been extremely worried. It is the hardest thing in the world to have the means of making a living removed and to have no clue to what the future may hold.

During that six weeks of Level 4 lockdown, we spoke to hundreds of business owners and I would say that 99% of them were positive, optimistic and accepting. While being at home they got stuck into projects, in and around the house – turning their skills to the best use possible – their own homes. I found those conversations inspiring and a little humbling and it sowed the seeds for actively thinking about a sector that doesn’t get anywhere near enough plaudits.

For tradespeople, I imagine one of the difficulties is dealing with the public when they have no appreciation or understanding of the jobs they need doing. All projects succeed on the basis of sound communication and tradies have a bad rap when it comes to that and I’d argue that in the main, it’s just not true. Day in and day out they patiently take the time to outline the parameters of work required, give options, honest costing and an appreciable sense of a timeline.

It is not easy and that’s before the work itself is even begun. Tradies put their bodies on the line and I admire the heck out of anyone that puts up with the aches and strains – and the occasional unforeseen injury, to provide for their families and themselves and put food on the table. And, let’s not forget, work is often done outside, in the worst of the elements, in all seasons. I can’t remember the last time I heard a registered business owner with NoCowboys whining about that, or in fact most of the everyday obligations of their craft. In fact, they tend to laugh it off and contextualise it with a pithy adage or a joke.

So sure – there’s some cowboys out there and they’re a small stain on an otherwise admirable and ever so necessary part of our economy.  So here’s to all the no cowboys and the amazing work they do.