Tom Bilkey certainly isn’t your average bloke. He’s a work hard, play hard civil engineer who loves beer almost as much as he loves the outdoors.

I caught up with Tom at one of his sites on a crisp Autumn morning. Tom’s company Development Construction Ltd, which he owns and runs, specialises in civil works. Services offered include subdivisions, drainage, retaining walls, earthworks and infrastructure works. Development Construction Ltd operates through the Auckland region, and Tom undoubtedly racks up a few kilometres bouncing between his sites. He gained his Bachelor of Civil Engineering from the University of Auckland, before moving down to Christchurch to start his professional career working for Downer Infrastructure and then Hicks Bros Civil Construction. By all accounts he was a busy chap during this period, working on projects such as the sizeable Pegasus development whilst playing club rugby and escaping into the wilderness at any opportunity. His mainland outdoor experiences varied from 4x4ing and hunting around the mountains to salmon fishing at the rivermouths.

Eventually the climate, friends and nightlife opportunities drew him back to his hometown of Auckland where he continued working for Hicks Bros – this time as a Project Manager at the sprawling Long Bay and Weiti Bay subdivisions.

His contract procurement and management, client liaison, financial control, and staff supervision experience put him in good stead for going out on his own in early 2017. Since then he has successfully completed many projects at the helm of Development Construction Ltd, and also had a foray into forestry. He reckons he has learnt a lot over the last couple of years – sometimes the hard way which we all know is generally the best way! He’s proud of where the company now is, with happy clients and head contractors, committed staff, some impressive machinery and an unblemished health and safety record.

When he’s not sampling the beverages found at his local pubs, Tom relishes his opportunities to get outdoors. Tom comes from sailing blood, and he’s often seen cruising the Hauraki Gulf on the family yacht Grand Larceny – a beautifully conditioned Farr 11.6 that’s seen more than its fair share of adventures. At school Tom sailed through the various yacht classes at a high-level, and although he no longer competes, he does sate his need for speed on his windsurfer along Auckland’s city bays when conditions allow. When he’s not on the water, he’s partial to donning the freediving gear and harvesting crayfish and scallops. And when his favourite scallop spot is covered by less than 2m of water at low-tide why wouldn’t he! Nevertheless, his favourite off-site pursuit is fishing. He loves catching the more powerful fish species – in particular kingfish, marlin and tuna.

He’s one of the most proficient kingfish jiggers I’ve seen and has caught multiple marlin and trophy yellowfin tuna from small boats over the last few years. And while the more sedate snapper fishing doesn’t really float his boat, he’s pretty adept at flicking a softbait or kabura out and snagging a quick feed. In spite of all his fishing strengths, there are two minor drawbacks to being his fishing mate:
1. He does not rouse from his slumber easily, particularly if he’s had a few nightcaps the previous evening – he generally snoozes his alarm at least five times!
2. He’s written off a few chilly bins from neglecting them after fishing trips.

Being an engineer, he’s a good man to have on-board when McGyveresque solutions are required for boating and fishing equipment issues. This attribute will really come in handy when he realises his dream of owning a decent gamefishing boat, which I’m sure will happen in the near future given the success of Development Construction Ltd. As they say – ‘the bigger the boat the bigger the problems’!

Article by: Nick Jones