Bill Ringrose receives Northland Roading Excellence award

By: Patrick Cox, Photography by: Supplied

Bill Ringrose, recepient of Northland Roading Excellence award Bill Ringrose, recepient of Northland Roading Excellence award Bill Ringrose, recepient of Northland Roading Excellence award

DOW profiles Bill Ringrose, the 2017 recipient of Northland Roading Excellence award

When you’re nine months old, Mum wraps you up in a blanket and puts you beside Dad while he’s operating a bulldozer. You’re first word isn’t ‘Mum’ or ‘Dad’, it’s ‘tractor’. Forty odd years later, you’re attending the Northland Forestry Awards at ASB Stadium, Kensington, Whangarei, to receive the Roading Excellence award.

Bill Ringrose’s journey started a long time ago, and having known him for a while, it came as no surprise that he had won the award. He’s completely dedicated to his work.

Bill’s days are made up of goals and he works until they are completed. For him, just because it’s five o’clock does not mean it’s knock off time. He will work through the night if that’s what’s required to get the job done.

Bill Ringrose's journey

Bill is a born and bred Northlander, but when his Dad, Owen, moved the family to Fiji for three years for a major roading project and then to Australia, young Bill was in tow. Owen Ringrose started interstate trucking in 1981, and then in 1983, moved the family to the Solomon Islands and took over the running of a sawmill in the Western province. Between 1985 and 1988, the Ringrose family moved back and forth between Australia and the Solomon Islands.

Young Bill did most of his schooling by correspondence with just the last two years spent at a State High School in Brisbane.

In 1989, he was once again on this side of the Tasman working for Kerry Lupi driving bulldozers and dozers with scoops in the Kerikeri region. He was again back in Brisbane and continued work in civil construction operating bulldozers, scrapers, and trucks. Eventually, in 1992, the move into forestry in New Zealand happened when he started work for Jensen Logging operating mainly the John Deer bulldozers and skidders in Glenbervie and Waitangi Forests. Two years later, Bill was back in Brisbane for his stint at interstate trucking. You just cannot buy this sort of experience; it has to be hard earned. With so much knowledge of trucking and machinery, it’s of little surprise that he scooped the Roading Excellence award.

The Ringroses of this world are stars in their own right—the quiet achievers, experts in their field, the people who build our roads, harvest our trees, transport our logs, work in all aspects of our economy to keep our country great. We need them as much as we need our sporting heroes.

By 1996, New Zealand was calling Bill back to our shores where he scored a logging job with Morton Logging. It was here where he was introduced to the KMC tracked skidder. I remember the older model FMC Tracked Skidders back in the ’80s were bought by a few contractors. The concept was great, but I think our New Zealand loggers gave them away quickly because of the expensive track maintenance.

Bill drove a KMC Tracked Skidder for Morton Logging in various forests around Northland. Talking to him about these tracked skidders was a revelation. He was impressed with its all-round qualities suited to our logging in Northland, with up to 110 metres of main rope and nine strops. Bill enjoyed the challenge of pulling rope and stropping his own logs, while maintaining production; something a modern logger might not do. In the loggers’ sports of old, they used to have choker races. So many competitors would line up with strop in hand. They would have to run to their log, chuck the strop round the log and into the choker, then sprint for the finish line. These days, most of the breaking out is done in hauler crews.

Vision Contracting

After operating for a few other contractors around Northland, Bill eventually started his own earthmoving business—Vision Contracting—in 2009. The passion that he has for machines shows through when you pay a visit to his worksite—all the cabs have carpet on the floor, boots are taken off at the door and placed in the boot tray. We must remember operators can spend up to a third of their lives in their machines, so why would you want to sit there in squalor.

A couple of years ago, I sold Vision Contracting a new Volvo excavator. When the machine turned up, Bill arrived at the yard with specific instructions. So I was off to Repco for cutting compound and polish to give the machine a good going over before it went out to work—the first and only time I’ve cut and polished a machine to go into the bush. It’s a testimony to Bill’s passion towards his machinery and the work he does. There are many contractors and operators who show their professionalism with a passion for the industry and are proud of who they are and what they do.

Bill says he owes his success to his parents, who equipped and set him on the path of life, his Christian faith that enabled him to switch off from the stress of work one day a week, and his mentors over the years: Russell Jensen, Tom Ringrose, Kerry Lupi, Derek Morgan, Geoff Gover, and so many others who have been a part of his journey, especially Shelley, his wife of 24 years.

Also, Bill would like to note that a young person having the exposure to what Dad does and being able to spend so many hours sitting beside him on the bulldozer, learning and gaining valuable experience has sadly become a thing of the past, and we wonder why we struggle to recruit the right people into our industry.

When it comes to work, Bill believes: be passionate about what you do; always do your best; admit it if you’ve mucked up; as a leader/foreman/boss, be prepared to do the worst/hardest job; have your workmates’ back;
having a challenge is good for you; with effort comes job satisfaction; every day, learn something and be prepared to pass on the knowledge you have; and be proud of our industry and what we achieve.

Bill is currently contract supervising for JSB Construction around Northland.

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