Who is Nigel Broomhall, the ex-Temuka man with a bold plan to replace the possibly closed Tiwai aluminium smelter with a gigafactory producing electric vehicles and batteries? Timaru Courier reporter Chris Tobin finds out.
Q Tell us about growing up in Temuka. Any special memories? Where did you go to school?
I was one of the last kids to be born in Temuka before they closed the maternity unit. I attended Pleasant Point Primary, then we moved to Clandeboye where I attended primary there, and finally we moved into Temuka. I went to school at Temuka High School as it was called back in the day. I was fortunate enough to be head boy in my final year and was very active in a range of school sports. I believe my high jump record still stands! My wider family still resides in South Canterbury, parents in Temuka, brother Clinton in Timaru, aunties and uncles and cousins around the area, with my youngest brother Daniel in North Canterbury. Dad and my brother, Clinton, run Broomhall Building in the area.
Q Brendon “Chainsaw” Laney was a classmate. Was this at Temuka Primary and Opihi College? Did you play rugby with him?
I was rubbish at rugby so didn’t have the pleasure of being driven into the deck by Brendon. I played tennis from age 5 and then basketball at school. Brendon went to Temuka with us and we were a pretty tight crew. My mum worked in the Laney retail store in Temuka up until it closed a few years back so I knew his dad (great guy), and his mum and mine still stay in touch.
Q When did you leave Temuka and where has life taken you since?
7th form (around 1991) and headed to Canterbury University. I had a lot of fun and got a couple of science degrees up there and then got drafted into the BNZ in their grad programme and then went to Countrywide Bank, National Bank and Meridian Energy where I worked for close to 10 years.
Sir Keith Turner helped shaped my career at Meridian, something I am eternally grateful for. He asked me to run the project that made the Meridian Group of companies carbon-neutral, and I got to run the EV programme for a year in 2009.
After Meridian, I worked with IBM. Around this time, I met my amazing wife Melissa and we got married at Larnach Castle. Our first child was a wee girl and then we got pregnant with our second, a wee boy.
Around that time the next mentor in my life came along, Mark Gilbert, a Timaru boy (he didn’t know I was a Temuka boy when we first met). He drafted me to come and run Chargemaster, an electric vehicle-charging infrastructure business in Auckland with two other major shareholders. The major shareholders wanted to focus on their other businesses so we parted as friends and I started ChargeSmart, a New Zealand EV-charging business.
I met Jake Bezzant and decided over a handshake to start a global EV-charging business. Invisible Urban Charging was born and since last year we’ve signed up $US56million ($NZ85million) in contracts.
The latest mentor I’ve added to the list is one of the most amazing women I have had the privilege to meet, Eileen Murray.
Eileen was the CEO of Bridgewater Associates (Ray Dalio’s hedge fund) until March this year, which is the largest and most profitable hedge fund in the world ($US160billion).
When Eileen agreed to meet me in January I flew to New York, and since then have had the privilege to get to know her. Eileen’s a straight-talking New Yorker with Irish heritage, so she gives it to you straight, which is what we all need.