This year, Mother’s Day will feel a little different for many. The last couple of months may have proven difficult for those who have been unable to visit their families. This post is dedicated to all Abergeldie sons, daughters and mothers who may have been affected by the current climate and the restrictions in place.
We thought that this day would be a great opportunity to speak with Robin Craig, co-founder and CSR Advisor at Abergeldie. Robin and her husband, Mick Boyle founded Abergeldie over 25 years’ ago and have seen the company grow into what it is today. They have seen many employees grow into respected leaders in Australian construction including engineering graduates develop into construction managers, project managers to estimating managers and construction workers to supervisors and superintendents. It would even be quite fitting to call Robin the mother of Abergeldie in so many ways. Robin also has two (2) daughters and two (2) sons of her own, all of whom have worked with Abergeldie at some stage during the 26 years of operations. We wanted to know her experience as a mother starting a business and asked her to share some of her experiences throughout the years.
Mother’s Day is about celebrating mothers around the world and Robin is exactly that, a mother of four (4) and her family founded Abergeldie before her first child, Minna was born. Robin reflects on this, saying that, ‘Abergeldie has always been a family company – we sometimes refer to it as our first child. Four others followed.’ In celebrating motherhood this year, we take a look back with Robin, these are her thoughts on the journey.
THE EARLY YEARS
When Abergeldie was still in its younger years, Robin and Mick had to assume various roles within the business ranging from construction worker and manager to accountant and administrator and, because of this, there were times when their children had to come with them to the workplace. In many ways, their children grew up alongside Abergeldie.
Robin recalls this time as hard, but very rewarding. She reflects,
‘Early on, Mick and I were very hands-on, and the kids came to sites and the office while we were working. Weekends often involved driving to sites to check on progress or determine pricing. I remember driving to Wollongong one evening when the girls were 3 and 1 to pick up our first small excavator, truck and trailer, then driving with the kids asleep in the car behind Mick as he drove the truck back to Sydney the same night. It was a big family adventure. Sadly, that plant was all stolen from a site a couple of months later. The day Sarah was born I had worked all day and made sure the wages were paid – you had to physically go to the bank to process them at that time. I picked up Minna from childcare, came home, made dinner put on the washing, went to hospital, had Sarah, came home the next day. I returned to work the next week to make sure everyone was paid. That was 1996 and we were working out of a small shop front in Hurlstone Park and only had a crew of about 10 workers at that time. One day when Minna was a toddler, she managed to lock herself into the storage warehouse we had on the side. I had to turn into Bionic Mum and scale a 2m gyprock wall to get her out. All the kids came to work with me as babies and slept under my desk. As Abergeldie grew that became trickier. When Joseph was born in 2003, I said to Mick that I wanted to take maternity leave – so we employed Kevin Medlin as Finance Manager and I finally had a few months off. Through the years, we juggled childcare and school which is hard particularly if you have no family living locally for back-up. Fortunately, we been able to set things up whereby we have always lived quite close to the office and I have been able to adjust my hours to fit in the kids. We feel lucky that we have been able to do this. For me, when the kids were younger, it often meant working split shifts or weekends to get the work done. Mick was also working long hours or away from home, so you’re forced to cover all bases.
IT RUNS IN THE FAMILY
Over the years, Abergeldie staff have seen many Boyle generations working various roles and helping out where they can. Mick’s father (Big Mick) worked as a Senior Site Supervisor for many years while Robin and Mick’s children have all in some capacity worked in the business. Currently, Sarah Boyle works two (2) days a week at our Parramatta Boardwalk project as a Trainee Engineer while she completes her degree in Civil Engineering.
We never put any pressure on the kids to work with us but have always been delighted when they do. Minna worked at reception when she was about 15, first admin and then in the legal team for a while. Sarah came on board as a Cadet Engineer a few years ago. Both boys have worked around the yard through the years and Joseph on site in Ireland. It does create a few issues for them in the workplace, especially Sarah on site when they find out she is the bosses’ daughter, but she is pretty good at fending for herself – she gives as good as she gets I think! When I was managing sustainability a few years ago, it particularly amused me when she went to a site and they said, “Oh s#@t, it’s Robin’s daughter quick get the paper recycling bin set up!”
Abergeldie has many long-term employees, some of whom have worked with Robin and Mick nearly from the beginning. These employees, as well as many other employees over the past 26 years, have become part of the Abergeldie family. Robin even says that, ‘Weirdly I feel a bit motherly towards some of the staff here at Abergeldie. I feel so proud to see new graduates and trainees mature and develop into leading hands, site engineers, project managers, construction managers on site and young admin staff become team leaders, managers and GMs in the office.’ This includes their extended family as well, including partners and children that the Boyle family has come to know. Over these years, Abergeldie has also seen its fair share of brothers, sisters, sons and daughters join Abergeldie in various roles ranging from receptionist to site supervisor and construction worker.
I am thinking of all the staff who cannot see their Mum’s due to travel and social distancing restrictions – it is a very complicated time. Sadly, this will be my first Mother’s Day without my Mum as she passed away last month. She was always so proud of Abergeldie - and really enjoyed celebrating at our 25-year anniversary in Melbourne last year. Thank you to all the Mums who work for Abergeldie and to all the Mums whose husbands and partners work for Abergeldie. I hope you all get totally spoilt this weekend.
Abergeldie is a civil engineering contractor with over 25 years’ experience providing services in the utilities, energy and infrastructure sectors: the complex infrastructure needed to build better communities.