Baptism by Covid-19.
That is how Foleys Alexandra branch manager Shawn Perry looks at his tenure in his new role.
Mr Perry took the reins at the plumbing, drainlaying and gasfitting firm two weeks before lockdown.
Due to the nature of the team working at various sites around Alexandra, Clyde, Cromwell and beyond, his first chance to speak to them as a team was following the Level 4 announcement, when he was fielding volunteers to cover the essential and urgent jobs that came through during Level 4.
Level 2 has brought some semblance of normality although contact tracing and distancing protocols remain in place, Mr Perry said.
One way of dealing with the rules was to assign apprentices to the same tradesman consistently — creating workplace ‘‘bubbles’’, and by staggering staff at workplaces, he said.
He has a team of 11 plumbers, drainlayers and gas fitters including three apprentices, and his first foray into branch management had been challenging, he said.
Mr Perry has been an on-and off Central Otago resident for much of his life, spending his formative years in Cromwell where his father, a dam worker, was based to work on construction of the Clyde Dam.
After completing his gas fitting and plumbing apprenticeship, jobs were scarce so he worked on dairy farms before gaining an apprenticeship in Timaru.
He remained with the same company for 14 years before combining his trade skills and dairy background in his next job in the dairy industry at a Timaru milk processing plant.
He then joined another Timaru-based plumbing firm and that led him to work in Christchurch for two years post the 2011 earthquake, joining the workforce tasked with repairing the shattered city.
He returned to Central Otago in 2013 and worked for Foleys for three years, left to work for another firm and rejoined the Foleys fold and had barely started when the lockdown happened. His management style was ‘‘team focused’’, he said. ‘‘I’d like to think I bring a fresh outlook to the way we run things.’’