Raising The Roof On Industry Standards | Meet Johnny Calley

For those who’ve known Johnny throughout his career – you’ll know there is a quiet determination about him that surpasses most.

“As a young guy I was extremely competitive and played in the first 15 and the first 11 at Paeroa College. I didn’t have much time for the academics back then, really the only classes I truly enjoyed was woodwork technology and geography but mainly the sports field”.

Maybe those were the earliest signs that a) Johnny thrives on being part of a high performing team and b) he likes to create, build and being hands on.

Early Years

On leaving school at 16, Johnny was fortunate enough to be guided into a building apprenticeship with Paul Corr Builders – a residential builder building luxury beach homes around the Coromandel.

From there he moved to Livingston Building and then Bishop & Moore Builders; both commercial building companies, to experience up close how larger build projects operated. Johnny found himself in leading roles very early on and thrived on the challenge of larger scale projects.

Johnny completed his apprenticeship in 2002 when he was still only 20 at Bishop and Moore Builders under well-known builder Alan Moore.

Key learnings for Johnny at this stage of his career was that working and playing sport were pretty similar; to get the job done you need good teamwork, and that coaching others around you to succeed makes your job easier so you can concentrate on the detail.

What’s Next

After completing his apprenticeship Johnny was offered a Project Manager’s role for a nationwide building consultant firm he had had an eye on, but as luck and life would have it at the same time he met Michelle (now wife/business partner/great mum).

Within a few short weeks of the pair meeting, Michelle headed off on her pre planned OE to London which left Johnny with a couple of key decisions to make. Dream job or potential wife?

After some brief advice from his potential father in law Peter (Pedro) Johnny turned down the project management role and jumped on a plane to join Michelle six weeks later. Johnny will tell you to this day it’s the best business decision he’s ever made.

Unbeknown to Johnny and Michelle the opportunities London would provide were about to pave the way for future family and business success.

Entrepreneurial From the Outset

After arriving in London Johnny took up a role with a building firm a friend he worked with in NZ put him on to. It wasn’t long before he and another colleague at that job (Matt) saw an opportunity to set up their own operation in the extremely buoyant London property market.

Within three months of stepping off the plane at Heathrow, Johnny and Matt took a massive leap of faith in one of the largest cities in the world and headed out on their own, ‘’We basically maxed out our credit cards and rolled up our sleeves. It was a daunting but exciting challenge.’’

‘’At the time we literally had no money so it was definitely a big risk, but I saw an opportunity and Michelle backed it. Some people might say catching the London underground to your own building site and meeting your tools and clients there was crazy, and it was! But in true kiwi fashion we worked our butts off and made it work!’’

‘’At one point Michelle and I were staring down the barrel of being evicted from the modest bedsit that we rented in Ealing Broadway for being two weeks late on our rent payment. This meant my negotiating skills were always well refined when entering into my next building contract talks!

When you’re faced with such constraints you by default go back to the fundamentals you learn in life, and through sheer hard work, determination and exceptional people relationship attributes; thankfully things went up for Johnny.

With a booming UK economy and constant workflow, Johnny and Matt saw further potential to multiply and maximise their encouraging start in business, and after 6 months they decided to split the modest array of assets the business had built up and go it alone. They managed to maintain a mutually supportive role to each other and their workloads. ‘’Maintaining the strong relationship was important and we split the assets with a simple game of paper, scissors, and rock! True story’’

Johnny and Michelle continued to thrive on the London property and construction boom for a further 4 years until late 2008 when Johnny and Michelle made the decision to move home closer to family.

On arriving back in NZ and with almost 5 years international traveling, life and business experience under his belt, Johnny set out to establish both building and development aspirations he had since entering into the building trade in 1998.

In the 9 years since settling in Tauranga, Johnny along with wife Michelle, founded industry leading Calley Homes which specialises in residential bespoke design and build projects across the Bay of Plenty. Johnny also Co-founded and is Co-Director of TGA Homes and has other business interests in land development projects and commercial property.

What Makes a Business Succeed?

Cutting your teeth in one of the world’s largest cities within such a highly competitive market, Johnny knew when he arrived back in New Zealand he not only wanted to set the industry standard he wanted to raise it and he has.

This strategic, transformational leadership style suited Johnny to a tee. Initiating change for the better, improving quality controls, motivating and educating others to reach their highest potential is what makes Johnny tick.

It’s important to Johnny that he leads by example within his own business environments and other associations he is involved in – and with a driven nature you can see why he loved playing his chosen sports so much back in the day ...same theory different field so to speak.

Johnny believes to get the best results you have to invest in your business presentation and also the people that work within it and this is reflected at Calley Homes who currently have eight apprentices and three site managers in training. Organising, developing and supporting a performance enhancing team takes dedication and focus and the results really do speak for themselves.

“Your business will be better off for having an exceptional employee for a shorter period of time opposed to a really average one for a long period of time”.

Something More About Johnny

External Transformational Leadership Roles:

2013 – Present

  • RMBA Executive committee member - Tauranga

2014 – 2017

  • RMBA President – Registered Master Builders Association - Tauranga

2017 - Present

  • Director – RMBA Board of Directors, Registered Master Builders Association - National

2016 – Present

  • Residential Working Group - National

Group includes representation from BCITO, Worksafe, Brandz, Fletcher’s and Registered Master Builders Association

Key career highlights

  • Getting a building apprenticeship and completing it

  • Representing and advocating for my fellow industry colleagues to assist in creating a better building environment

  • Creating and developing Calley Homes

  • Watching and assisting my own staff develop their careers

  • Becoming President of RMBA Tauranga

  • Being voted onto the RMBA Board of Directors


  • 36 yrs old

  • Married to Michelle and have three children; Zak, Mason and Mila

  • Loves fishing, rugby, cricket and playing squash

  • Also loves spending time with extended family and friends

  • Coaches son’s rugby team at Tauranga Sports

  • Positive and healthy lifestyle

  • Family most important driver in life

Project Highlight

Completing any project is a highlight but the Mount Classic we built on Muricata Avenue at the Mount would have to be the defining build. It was the last project where I was on the tools and had all the aspects that make a build rewarding from innovation to character and of course the friendships that have developed.


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