A few years ago Butch Schofield was more au fait wielding a butcher’s knife than blasting rocks and working with big machinery.

But his relative newness to the quarry industry hasn’t stopped him from scooping a prestigious national industry award.

Schofield spent nearly 10 years working as a butcher before deciding to change careers and join Taylors Contracting nearly four years ago.

And after hanging up his knife and apron, he hasn’t looked back.

Schofield enjoys working as part of the Brightwater-based company’s Quarries team in the Lee Valley.

Schofield was awarded the Terra Cat Award at the IOQNZ (Institute of Quarrying) awards this week for the operator that has consistently shown the most dedication and commitment to the quarrying industry.

The award comes with a $3500 travel grant towards the cost of travel in New Zealand or Australia.

Schofield says a co-worker’s wife told him about Taylors four years ago, and despite having no experience as a machine operator he approached the contracting company.

“Taylors said that they would work with the right person to train them up and that’s exactly what they have done,” says Schofield.

“They’ve supported me to get all my tickets and training, including my B Grade Quarry Managers Certificate.”

Schofield says he loves working outside and is really enjoying being involved in a range of tasks in the quarry environment.

“I get to do a bit of everything – pulling rock, loading rock trucks, drilling, and I’ve got all my tickets for blasting. I really enjoy operating heavy machinery and blasting and the work environment is great.

“The quarries team are a really good group.”

Schofield says that he’s keen to work towards being a quarry manager in the future but currently he’s enjoying operating the machinery and being a part of the wider Taylors’ team.

Schofield’s manager Neil McKay says that he’d love to find more people like Schofield.

“He has an eye for the job at hand and thinks ahead. What he’s been able to achieve with no previous machinery experience has been impressive. We are developing his management skills and we see a real pathway there for Schofield.”

It’s the second big award for Taylor’s Contracting, who with Fulton Hogan jointly won the Excellence in Environment and Sustainability award for work at the Challies Island and Wetland Development. The win was at the Āpōpō 2023 Asset Management Excellence Awards at a gala dinner in Rotorua recently.

Āpōpō is the lead association for infrastructure asset management professionals.