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A coffee with Brendan Jol, Assistant Project Manager

Hello Brendan. You’re one of the more versatile members of our Project Management team, sharing your time between our Wetherill Park workshop as well as being out on site. What does a ‘typical’ day look like for you?

It’s hard to define a ‘typical day’, because every day is different depending on the requirements of our projects. You might find me in Taree, Albury or anywhere in between – primarily overseeing job sites, maintaining and implementing health and safety procedures, liaising with multiple contractors to ensure the site is running smoothly and jumping on the tools whenever needed. I’ve got nearly 20 years under my toolbelt as a carpenter/joiner so I enjoy being on the tools and keeping my hands busy.

What qualities are important in your job?

The ability to multi-task and be adaptable. Being able to find out-of-the-box solutions for out-of-the-ordinary problems. Also, being able to acknowledge when a job is too big for just one person and to ask for a hand. 

How do you measure ‘success’ on your projects?

For me, success is being able to go to a job in the future and proudly tell my kids I was part of the team that built it. A job well done means the client is happy, the Fleetwood management team is happy and the subbies are all keen to come back for another job in the future!

What are some of the biggest challenges you come across?

Access is often a huge challenge in this role; being able to find a way to make a job happen even when it looks like it’s physically impossible to reach the site – safely and effectively – with the necessary materials and equipment.

This is actually your second stint with the Fleetwood team. What did you do the first time around? 

Round One, Fleetwood Edition! I used to be a subbie and worked on quite a few boardwalks, bridges and external structures. I actually worked with my brother, uncles and then eventually my Dad, Marinus Jol. He was basically doing the role I’m doing now. Like father, like son!

How has Fleetwood changed in your time away?

It’s a LOT bigger! The projects, the factory, the staff and the goals. Everything is on a much grander scale now. However, one thing that hasn’t changed is Fleetwood’s commitment to their employees. That’s as strong as ever.

In between your stints with Fleetwood, you did some pretty amazing work in really remote areas of New Zealand. Any memorable moments?

My most memorable NZ project also happened to be my first one, a 50-metre suspension bridge on the South Island. We were helicoptered out to the middle of nowhere, dropped off with our gear, parts of a prefabricated bridge, some food and only a satellite phone for communication.  That job took ‘manual labour’ to a whole new level – for days on end we shovelled and shivered in torrential rain (thank goodness the National Park hut we were living in had hot water). It was a fantastic initiation into bridge building as no job was ever as difficult as that one and the site was in one of the most beautiful parts of NZ.

Brendan installing a bridge in NZ
Brendan giving a hand on the forklift

What was the best thing about living and working in NZ? 

Due to NZ being relatively small, I had the privilege of working on jobs all over the country, from the top of the North Island to the bottom of the South Island. Some jobs were in the middle of cities and others were over creeks on volcanic mountains or in the middle of the bush, so I feel lucky to have seen so many parts of such a beautiful country and to be able to create access to those places so more people can enjoy them.

What’s been the best thing about coming back to Sydney?

Family. I have a huge extended family (my mum is one of 10 children and my dad is one of 5!) and my cousins and I all grew up very close. Now most of us have our own families, so I want my children to grow up with close relationships with their cousins like I did.  The weather in Australia is a bonus too.  We are beach people and we currently live on the Central Coast. In NZ we also lived on the coast – but often we could only spend five minutes at the beach before the wind came howling through, we’d just get the kids straight in the car and head home to a hot shower!

Just finally, one of your greatest outdoor passions is fishing. Can you tell us about the ‘one that got away’?

Ooooooh, don’t get me started. The family and I were out on the boat underneath the Rip Bridge near Ettalong. My 8-year old daughter hooked a jewfish which was so huge she handed the rod over to me before she got pulled in, as it was only a 2kg line! I reeled it in and had it right up against the side of the boat, but we didn’t have a net with us so I tried to pull the fish up by hand and hold the rod at the same time. It. Snapped. The. Rod. In. Half. I was left holding half a fishing rod and turned around to see the worst look of disappointment on my daughter’s face that I’d ever seen. That fish is definitely now my nemesis.

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