He looked outside and spotted a gang of brickies working on a new home being built, donning shorts and singlets, tattoos on their arms, long hair, smoking cigarettes and listening to the music on full volume.
To Rod it all meant only one thing! Freedom.
That’s when he decided to start working as a bricklayer, but little at the time, did he know that it was what he was going to do for the rest of his life.
“At the tender age of 17 I got a job as an apprentice brickie with a big Scottish man nicknamed ‘The Trickster’, working all around the Northern beaches of Sydney,” Rod takes a walk down the memory lane.
As more time passed, Rod left Belrose for Central Coast at age 28 where he met his wife Pauline, bought his first home and started a family.
Rod has now three lovely daughters, the youngest one being 21.
Challenges in growing the business
5 years later, still travelling from Central Coast to Sydney working for some big gangs, Rod felt his energy was not the same as before. The early start and late finish of this tough physical job was draining him out. The long commuting from home to work and back wasn’t helping either.
At that point, Rod decided to start his own business, Rod Till Bricklaying.
“I lent some money from the bank to buy my first truck and equipment and began working in the Central Coast doing project homes. But the money wasn’t great as they would tell me what I’m getting paid as opposed to me quoting it for them. I knew I could make more money working for private builders, telling them my rates and backing it up with exceptional work as I was trying to build my business and get a good name for myself,” says Rod.
Getting his business up wasn’t free of setbacks. Rain – no work, hence no pay; late delivery of bricks – delay and bottlenecks; guys not showing up – another story altogether. And then there is the problem of finding apprentices. “It’s a hard physical job. You need to be cut out for it mentally and physically. Only the strong survive in our trade,” says the 55 year old brickie.
Despite the challenges, Rod feels lucky to have done all aspects of bricklaying working on massive commercial high rise jobs in Sydney laying Besser blocks, Hebel blocks, Glass blocks, all different types and sizes of bricks and even had the opportunity to work on the 2000 Sydney Olympic site for 2 years which he loved.
Rod’s best work so far
Rod’s favorite job is the one he worked on only recently in his home town of Gosford, The Gosford Taxation Office.
“There is some amazing brickwork on that job which I’m very proud of. Over 100,000 bricks were imported from Italy at $4 per brick; very expensive but they look awesome. There are also panels of solid brick soldier courses which in fact is very hard to build. You need a lot of time and patience to get it looking right but after it’s finished, it looks amazing.”
Life away from work
A big fan of the Rugby league, Rod has followed the Sydney Roosters all his life and even has the Roosters emblem tattooed on his upper arm.
When not enjoying Rugby, Rod goes out fishing with his brother, who also happens to be brickie. “Holidays are far and few between but we like to get away to Nelson Bay at least once a year for some well-earned rest. We like to climb Tomaree Mountain in Shoal Bay and walk through the National Park. For us, it’s just a perfect little getaway.”
About Tradie Life
Tradie Life is a growing community group run by i4Tradies. It’s a place for you to talk about whatever’s important to you as a tradie. Be it your personal life challenges, questions on how to improve your business, your journey so far, volunteer work, being a female tradie, work-life balance, what you like to do when you are not working. Pretty much anything that matters to you and you want an answer to it from veteran tradies who have walked in your shoes.