The trades are a powerhouse of know-how, and Joe Kelly is determined to help electricians take pride in their profession.  

Being an agent of change is a hands-on job, but Joe and Kim Kelly of Coastal Connections are more than up to the challenge. The couple has recently been awarded the Master Electrician Business Development Scholarship.

As tradespeople, it’s their ambition and people focus that sets them apart, says Kim Kelly.

“We want to be able to lead the company in the best possible way to give our staff the best possible place to work.”

The Kellys developed this outlook shortly after arriving in New Zealand from their native UK, where Joe earned his electrical qualifications. Joe felt that there was room to increase professional pride in the electrical industry, noticing a perception of tradespeople that didn’t fit the rigour of their qualifications.

“Every trade, regardless of what they do, they’re a qualified, skilled person and they’ve learned their skill. But it’s seen still as a bit ‘lower’, and people allow that to happen by the way that they act and the way that they conduct themselves.”


Joe would like to see more electricians value themselves for the complex, difficult work they do. He and Kim intend to use their leadership position as business owners to make that perception change happen through training their five employees.

The Master Electrician Business Development Scholarship and the mentoring programme it provides will give them the resources they need to get that change off the ground, the Kellys say.

“I want to be one of the companies in Auckland that people know of, that they want to work for because of how we are as a company and the work that we produce,” Joe says.

Next, Joe plans to move Coastal Connections into the automation and smart home market.

“My training as an electrician was focused on electrical work in high-end architectural design and build projects,” he explains. “That’s where our passion lies, so that’s where we see ourselves in the future – a well-established business that produces premium electrical, automation and lighting design work on ambitious projects.”

Together, the Kellys want to build a workplace that helps its employees become the ones to lead the industry forward.

The way Joe puts it: “If our staff leave, I want them to leave and, if they start their own thing, follow this on to teach their people. And then one by one, the industry, in our opinion, is moving forward.”