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Crew | May 2024

Passion, persistence and pink boots: Rhi’s blueprint for success

@rhibuilds (5)
  • Rhi has gone from being the only girl at trade school to working on high-end homes
  • She came second in the NZCB Apprentice Challenge in 2024 for her region and hopes to encourage other women into trades careers
  • Rhi loves the comfort of Steel Blue boots, owning pairs of both Hobart and Southern Cross® boots—including a pair in bright pink!

Raised in the holiday hotspot of New Zealand’s North Island, Rhi Beauchamp was an outdoor kid. She loved nothing more than hiking, camping, and days at the beach. She was also raised to be handy, so a career in the trades had always appealed to her. When an opportunity came up to go to trade school, Rhi jumped at it.
“I was really excited and then nervous, obviously, to realize I was the only female there,” she said. “And it was difficult for me to find boots, and any sort of work wear, I had no idea what to wear. It scared the hell out of me. So, I didn’t go back. Nobody questioned that decision, either.”

No one except Rhi, that is. She went to college and studied adventure tourism, then worked in a gym for a while, but the call of a construction career never left her.

“The gym was a fun and energetic environment, but I just wanted to be outside and to be doing something a bit more physical and challenging,” she said. Rhi got a job at a landscaping company, which she thought of as an entry-level trade job as it didn’t require any qualifications. After 18 months, she decided to bite the bullet and finally get her trade.

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The call of construction

She got an apprenticeship working for her stepfather. It meant moving an hour and a half away to a town with a population of 800 people, but she was finally living her dream. Not only was she learning her trade skills, but she and her partner were able to build their own home, taking it from design through construction to completion.

“We did a lot of it after work,” she said. “In winter, we’d finish work and it would already be dark and we’d get to the house and put up the scribers and stuff, just with our little Makita light shining on us. We were working in extreme conditions just to get it done.”

And, loving it.

Rhi is now a third-year apprentice and she and her partner have moved back up north to the Bay of Plenty to be closer to family and friends. She has joined high-end construction company Kuriger Builders.

“Right now, I’m working on a very big renovation,” she said. “It’s mostly been just me on this job for the last little while, which is cool because I feel like I’m being given a lot more responsibility. It makes me feel valued. So, I can see progress there.

“I really like the ‘high attention to detail’ jobs. They take patience and a high level of care. The kind of house that I’m doing is going to be put in for House of the Year, so you’ve got to make sure everything looks perfect. There can’t be anything someone might question.

“It’s quite a bit of pressure, but it’s nice to be trusted to do it.”

 

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Apprentice Challenges

Rhi came second in the NZ Certified Builders Apprentice Challenge 2024 for her regions. The competition, open to apprentices across the country, involved building a picnic table.

“You receive your plans a week ahead, so I spent the weekend and after work trying to figure out hidden measurements and angles and stuff like that,” she said. “Obviously, they don’t give you step-by-step instructions; you need to come up with your own process and method in your head and write up all your cutting lists and stuff like that.”

Rhi said the competition had been a lot of fun and “definitely made me a lot more confident in my skills and knowledge”. It has inspired her to apply for NZ’s Apprentice of the Year competition.

Rhi has come a long way from that first nervous day at trade school.

Why Rhi loves Steel Blue work boots

Rhi loves her Steel Blue work boots. She has a pair of women’s slip-on Hobart boots, which she describes as “really comfy”, and the Ladies Southern Cross® Zip boots.

“They’re definitely my favorite boot that I’ve ever had,” she said. “They have a cut-out at the back of the ankle, which gives you so much more movement. So, when you’re driving, your boot doesn’t cut off the blood supply and hurt your Achilles tendon.”
Her newest pair of Southern Cross® boots are pink—part of Steel Blue’s charity range, which raises money for breast cancer charities, including Sweet Louise in New Zealand. Rhi said the pink brings “a bit of femininity to site”. She’s also planning to wear them to Apprentice of the Year, and into schools—where she’s been invited to encourage more young women into careers in trades.

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