Monday, 06 July 2020


Take it from a long time local - winters in Whitianga are busy

Take it from a long time local - winters in Whitianga are busy

Paul and Gillian Willis started out in Hamilton, where Paul began his electrical apprenticeship in 1980. The middle 80’s saw Paul and Gillian move to Auckland, but after five years it was time for a change. So in 1991 they made the move to Whitianga. “I used to holiday in Whitianga as a child,” said Paul. “My parents had a bach here and also owned a building on the corner of Lee and Albert Streets where a café called Upper Crust was in.

We were looking at opportunities to get out of Auckland and when we heard Upper Crust was on the market, we took the plunge, so from wiring homes, commercial buildings and factories, I started making coffee.”Somewhat into their ownership of the café, Paul’s parents decided to demolish the Upper Crust building and build three new shops in its place.

This was done in two stages - first a small shop on Lee Street was completed, where Envy Hair and Beauty is now, and Upper Crust moved into it, serving takeaways. Once stage two was completed, the café moved into the corner shop where Tides Café is now. In a way, things came full circle as Paul, a third generation electrician, ended up wiring the new shops with his father.

In the nine years Paul and Gillian owned Upper Crust, Paul always kept a hand in his trade, working alongside his father when time permitted and helping out friends and family. When it was time to sell the café, Paul accepted an offer from local electrician, Chris Brown to join him. When Chris decided to hang up his tools late last year, Paul was ready to take the business over. He rebranded it from CB Electrical to Willis Electrical and handed Gillian all responsibility for the paperwork. So, what has changed since Paul and Gillian arrived in Mercury Bay more than 20 years ago?

“There has been lots of change, particularly the growth in both the housing and business sector,” said Paul. The development of Whitianga Waterways would probably be the most significant change of all. We no longer have a quiet winter season. Believe it or not, winters are now really busy compared to what they were. It’s great. Good for business and good for people’s confidence. “Gillian and I had opportunities to live and work elsewhere when we sold Upper Crust and again when Chris decided to retire, but Mercury Bay is home. This is where we want to be and I can see myself helping people and businesses with their electrical needs for many years to come.”


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