By Bonny Burrows
For Pakenham’s Ben Carpenter, the chance to work local was too good an opportunity to pass up – despite it involving a career change.
The former machinist turned welder used to commute daily to Dandenong – a two-hour round commute during peak hour – and was sick of spending his days in traffic.
So, when the State Government’s Pakenham pre-cast factory, specialising in custom-made concrete sections for its Level Crossing Removal project opened just eight minutes from home, he knew he had to apply.
The massive, purpose-built factory on Pakenham’s Greenhills Road employs 200 concretors, steel fixers, welders and plant operators – the majority of which, like Ben are local.
Ben started work at the site in October 2016 and despite the early 6am start time, he hasn’t looked back since.
“The travel time is awesome … I’m saving at least an hour a day of commuting,” he said.
Working locally means Ben can make the most of the limited winter daylight, and spend more time with his fiancee and father.
He’s home just after 2.30pm most days, leaving plenty of time to tackle household chores and catch up with friends.
Along with the newfound freedom the job brings, Ben insists he “actually really loves” his new career.
The 40-year-old’s role involves welding steel cages which reinforce the rail lines’ 30-tonne concrete segments.
“I really like doing something different to engineering,” Ben said.
While the rail-yard may not be a permanent job – work is expected to wrap up once the project is complete – Ben can’t see himself returning to his former life.
“I’d like to stay in construction and stay in Pakenham,” Ben said.
“I’m really enjoying the change.”