Taylor Cross didn’t have the best start in life; he had a difficult upbringing, struggled at school and suffered from low self-esteem. But he turned his life around, going from looking in the mirror each morning and trying to convince himself that he’s ‘the man’ to supervising epic projects, including work on one of Marlborough’s most high-profile marina projects.

After leaving school at 16, Taylor joined the Advanced Training Centre. The military skills he learnt set him on the path of believing in himself, and it was there that he met a tutor who taught him a technique he used to start changing his life for the better.

The tutor told him to look in the mirror every day and tell himself he was ‘the man’ to build his confidence, Taylor laughed at the time but decided to give it a go.

As his confidence grew, he entered the construction industry and met Kevin Turvy and Alex Anderson – mentors who helped him boost his self-esteem further. Taylor then started tackling bigger challenges, realising he could achieve anything he put his mind to if he believed in himself.

“What I love about the infrastructure industry is that I’ve met a few key people who have given me opportunities and have really helped me up and invested in me. The industry filled me up with confidence when I needed it the most.”

After dedicating himself to become the best drainlayer possible, Taylor found himself supervising the drainlaying at a 52-lot subdivision site in

Auckland when he was only 22 years old. This gave him the experience and belief he needed to secure a drainlaying position with Simcox Construction when he moved to Blenheim with his family in 2020.

“I started as a drainlayer and you really get to see the whole side of the civil infrastructure industry: operating machines, handling earthworks, the construction aspects and everything else that goes with it.”

At Simcox, Taylor’s leadership ability and commitment to supporting his peers led to him being promoted twice – from drainlayer to foreman to supervisor.

“Simcox kept giving me more responsibility and I ended up running the project I was working on. I didn’t know how to do everything, but I had great support where I needed it.”

A highlight of working with Simcox has been leading the world-class Waikawa North West extension project for Waikawa Marina in Marlborough.

The project has involved re-claiming land alongside Queen Charlotte Sound to help extend the marina, ultimately allowing for as many as 250 additional berths.

He has worked on many other projects with Simcox and enjoys the variety. Currently Taylor’s loving the challenge of supervising his team to demolish

350 square metres of building to pave the way for the Car Distribution Group’s new car park in Picton. At the same time his team is laying train tracks to link trains to KiwiRail’s new mechanical depot.

Now in his 30s, Taylor keeps a keen eye on the mental health of his team by watching for changes in their behaviour and other signs they might not be coping well. A Connector course with MATES in Construction has given him the skills to be able to identify when to check up with people and ask them how they’re doing.

“The culture in Simcox is great. Everyone’s looking out for each other and it’s really cool to see the young people come through and develop their confidence and skills after a couple of years on the job.

“In my mind if I help others up, it helps me up too. Helping others is my main goal at the end of the day.

“The industry is all about learning and developing new skills and improving yourself – it’s very rewarding.

“My whole journey of balancing my career and family responsibilities has been challenging at times, but when you get recognised for your achievements you feel amazing. I never thought I’d have the opportunity to get my qualifications, but I did it.”

Taylor says he is grateful that his employers have paid for him to gain all the qualifications he has required throughout his career, including his drainlayer certifications, electric fusion and welding ticket, a chainsaw skills course, the Site Traffic Management Supervisor (STMS) qualification, Class One, Two and Four driving licences and a Wheels, Trucks and Rollers endorsement.

“When you leave school if you have the opportunity to start an apprenticeship you should definitely jump on that – you’ll be getting paid to get educated.

“A lot of people go to uni and they build up these massive loans; personally I reckon it’s better to get paid to do it rather than have a mountain of debt.”

For a person who didn’t think he had much of a future, Taylor’s gone from telling himself he’s ‘the man’, to becoming someone who’s turned his dream into reality and loving the life he’s created.

“Simcox is backing me 100 per cent and I’ve got a really good thing going at the moment. I’m looking forward to getting experience in project management or maybe starting my own business.”

Taylor says New Zealand is a bit behind with civil infrastructure development and the country is going to get “a big spruce up” over the next ten years.

“I think the government is about to pour a lot of money into the infrastructure industry and so it’s a good idea to jump in now – it’s the ideal time to get involved.”