Qualities that he tries to instil in his own apprentices now, as well as encouraging their dreams to one day run a business too. ‘We have a young fellow who has just finished his time and he’s very open that in two years he wants to go out on his own, and that was me as well. I just love the idea of that,’ he says.
Being a mentor as well as a boss is something Ashley takes seriously, and he encourages staff, including senior apprentices, to do the same and pass on their knowledge.
Providing a sense of progression in the organisation is also important, such as encouraging third-year apprentices to take a first-year under their wing and train them to be a leading hand and run their own gang, as well as providing some career planning so they know where they’re headed.
Ashley has also set up review and feedback sessions with the apprentices so he knows their needs, they understand what is required of them, and how they are progressing. ‘Everyone needs to know their value in the organisation…that helps people through the bad days knowing there is a bigger picture at play,’ he says.
Ashley did get to be a building supervisor but it was a case of being thrown in the deep end at a young age, making a tough job even more difficult. It was yet another lesson in the importance of having the right support and culture around you to be successful. ‘I was a really young supervisor and I probably didn’t have the support network around me that these days someone might have.’
It didn’t stop him from managing a custom home builder in Victoria before taking on a truss plant. This operation closed down and it was like all of Ashley’s experiences led to his own business, and with some key staff they opened Framelink in Pakenham in May 2019.
‘My carpentry and management experience dovetailed and lended itself perfectly to such a role,’ he says, adding he relished the opportunity to be back on the tools.
Running his own business was overwhelming at first but growth was steady until the pandemic hit, prompting him to offer an install service, which has become Framelink’s point of difference. It provides a complete carpentry solution to builders, from engineering, design, manufacture and then installation right up to certification.
It’s a service that has proven popular with mostly smaller builders and low-end commercial projects looking to reduce site time.
As the company continues to expand, and employ more apprentices, Ashley looks to HIA as the cornerstone to its sustained development, from where it can source quality young people to be a part of the journey. ‘HIA is a genuine partner. Coming through the system myself, and knowing the group training system, I have an innate confidence in it,’ he says.