• Phil Brosnan as President of the North Harbour Club
  • A high profile local North Shore project that Brosnan recently completed was the Spencer on Byron in Takapuna
  • Phil Brosnan
  • Phil and Michelle Brosnan
  • Phil (left) and his brother Craig with a young Brosnan team member
  • Brosnan CEO Geoff Nash (left) with Gary Monk and Phil Brosnan
  • Phil and Craig Brosnan biking near Queenstown

A chat with… Phil Brosnan

Life on the Shore, building and business, making the move south

Channel Magazine publisher Aidan Bennett has enjoyed a close association with Brosnan founder Phil Brosnan since his arrival on the North Shore two decades ago. They are both past presidents and trustees of the North Harbour Club and Charitable Trust. Aidan has watched Phil launch, lead and grow the hugely successful Brosnan business to the point where he has recently stepped away from the day-to-day running of the business and is ‘retiring’ to a lifestyle property near Queenstown. During March, he sat down and talked to Phil about his two decades on the Shore.

Phil Brosnan’s early ambition was to be a chef in the navy. It was work as a teenager helping his brother-in-law on building projects that led him to taking a building apprenticeship with Dunedin-based construction company Naylor Love in 1985. It was the start of a career in the construction industry that has culminated in the development of the impressive North Shore headquartered business that carries his surname, and now employs 350 people across the country. Not bad for someone who admits to having been useless at school.

Young Phil Brosnan clearly demonstrated strong leadership qualities early on, came off the tools and was eventually promoted to become Naylor Love’s Dunedin manager. In 2004, an opportunity with the business brought him to Auckland and the North Shore.
“Naylor Love expanded into the Auckland market by acquiring the remnants of the business that was Akita Construction on the North Shore in 2003, and I was asked to come north to run it,” says Phil.
“When I arrived, the Naylor Love Auckland base was in Parity Place (Glenfield) but I had aspirations for better premises. So, I started talking to local commercial real estate agents and was fortunate to meet Daryl Devereux. He gave me a great piece of advice about getting to know people on the Shore and that was to join the North Harbour Club. I have thanked him for that ever since. The North Harbour Club was a great way to build friendships and a local network. At club events I met many people, one of those being Takapuna accountant Evan Henning who encouraged me to join Takapuna North Rotary, another organisation that gave me a great deal.”
Phil Brosnan became a leader in both organisations. He was president of Takapuna North Rotary for a term and a long-serving trustee and president of the North Harbour Club from 2018 through until 2022.
Phil says the North Shore has given him plenty – not only in business, but also personally. It was where he met Michelle, who was born and bred on the Shore, now his wife of 16 years. They met in 2006 and married in 2008. Together, they have a blended family of five adult offspring.
In 2010, with Michelle’s support, Phil Brosnan made the move to launch Brosnan Construction. He says he set up Brosnan with the purpose of making a positive difference and an aim to build a sustainable business that would last for generations. His Christchurch-based brother Craig became a partner in the business along the way when Brosnan launched in the South Island.
“When I started it was during the GFC [global financial crisis]. While that hit in 2007/08, there is always a lag before the full effects are felt in construction. By 2010 it had well and truly hit.
“The remediation building sector in New Zealand was tightly held. However, I had some good contacts in that area of the industry so that was our obvious entry into the market. Most others were not keen on remedial work because it’s not easy.
“From our very first project, which was the Mon Desir apartments in Takapuna, our mission has been to understand and deliver on each client’s unique needs. I believe this has established Brosnan’s reputation as the only true specialist in remediation, upgrades, and refurbishments on multi-unit residential and non-residential buildings. We’ve all heard the saying, ‘work smarter, not harder’, and for us, that means competing on our unique offering.
“It wasn’t all smooth sailing in those early days though. We were so focused on getting the Mon Desir project right that we weren’t paying enough attention to what came next. So there were sleepless nights when that project was nearing completion. We were starting to run out of money! I can remember working 18-hour days pricing for new work. We priced five projects in a very short time hoping to get one or two. We got them all, so we were well on our way.”
 “While there has been a lot of hard work and long hours, we have also made sure we are thinking years into the future, ensuring that we have been strategic, to drive Brosnan’s success.
 “For me, that meant identifying and mentoring my successor early. In 2018, we appointed Geoff Nash, who had worked with us since 2012, as general manager. In 2020, we established an independent board of directors and promoted Geoff to CEO. Since then, we’ve experienced remarkable growth, and I rest easy knowing the company is in safe hands.”
Today, from its North Shore base, Brosnan operates nationwide with offices in Queenstown, Christchurch and Wellington (and of course in Auckland on the North Shore) – with an office opening soon in Tauranga. They’re delivering projects all over New Zealand – from Whangarei to Te Anau. Brosnan employs over 350 people across the country – 184 of those people are based out of the North Shore office.
A high profile local North Shore project that Brosnan recently completed was the Spencer on Byron in Takapuna. The 21-floor building had weather tightness issues with the cladding system. Brosnan became involved early on and carried out two pilot projects to help identify defects and assist the design team in developing a solution. Understandably, the body corporate wanted to minimise the impact of construction on the hotel and the building’s occupants. That meant that only 24 rooms – two floors – could be vacated at any given time.
“We were able to devise a programme and methodology around these constraints that would allow us to carry out work two floors at a time,” explains Phil. “The traditional way of remediating the building would have been to erect scaffolding from the ground up that encapsulated the building, but that would have been disruptive and visually unacceptable. Our team came up with a unique suspended scaffolding system that allowed us to carry out the work without the traditional scaffolding.”
While the North Shore remains an important part of the Brosnan business, change is in the air for Phil and Michelle. Having handed the reins over to others, they are building a new home at Dalefield, near Queenstown, in Central Otago.
“In my 20s I almost followed my brother-in-law when he moved to build in Queenstown. Being born and bred in Dunedin from five years of age I spent most of our holidays in Central Otago and came to love the place. I have always had an ambition to end up there one day. That day is coming. We will not be departing the North Shore completely. Michelle and I will still have a place on the Shore and will spend time here. I will maintain my governance role with Brosnan so will be at head office regularly for board meetings.
“The North Shore and wider North Harbour region has provided a wonderful lifestyle over the past 20 years and the people have been wonderful. I felt welcome from the day I arrived fresh off the boat from Dunedin. Looking back, I remember meeting people who had a range of interesting roles, much wider than where I had come from. Suddenly, I was meeting and dealing with people working on international projects in a city of significance. I have loved building my network and meeting new people through business, the North Harbour Club, Rotary and many other things I have been involved in. The area will always be part of Phil Brosnan’s life.”
Phil remains active in governance with the Brosnan business and also sits on the Registered Master Builders Association (RMBA) board, is a board member and deputy chair of the Building and Construction Trade Fund, and was recently appointed as a director for Master Build Services.