A Collection of 7 Bob Clarkson Thoughts

Bob Clarkson (72 years old) invited me into his home on the weekend.

For 90 minutes he told me his story.

I can summarise it in 3 words: He loves building.

We talked about many of his building projects. Past (those still standing today), Present (what he’s working on right now), and Future (those that he’s been prevented from starting).

I’ve been told that “you either love him or hate him”. Well, put me in the love-him category then. For the simple reason that he get’s things done. I respect an action man.

Sure, there’s a time for talk, but when the talking’s done, start building. Life is short.

Tauranga needs people like that.

How did I end up at his house?

I’m planning an event called TEDx Tauranga 2013 and I wanted to talk to him about being one of my guest speakers. I Googled his contact details and couldn’t find them anywhere. So via Facebook I asked my network to help. One of my friends pointed out that a quick search for “Bob Clarkson” in the online WhitePages does the job. I found his home number there and talked to him one evening last week.

During that phonecall he invited me to his house to pick up a DVD, a compilation of news footage for the building of Bay Park Speedway 2000/2001.

(Which I have since put on YouTube with his permission).

So what can I tell you about Bob?

Here are 3 quick facts about Bob Clarkson to start with.

3 Quick Facts About Bob Clarkson You Might Not Know:

  1. He doesn’t have an email address (but he tells me his P.A. does, but he doesn’t know what it is)
  2. He drew the plans for the roof for BayPark stadium himself with a pencil and ruler
  3. He wears pants part-time on hot weekends (don’t we all!) – The first thing he said when he opened the door for me was “Sorry I took so long to get to the door, I had to go and put some pants on.  It’s hot today!”.

You might already know about his industrial land projects:

  • BayPark Speedway 2000/2001
  • McDonald St + Aviation Ave (Mount Maunganui) industrial area
  • Melame St, Greerton industrial area

But you may not know about projects he’s planned that haven’t gone ahead yet.

Bob Clarkson Projects That Haven’t Gone Ahead

#1: 1000 Affordable homes in Tauriko West

  • Premise: “Why make it so hard for first time home buyers to afford their own home?”
  • Solution: He owns Tauriko West, and plans to build 1000 affordable homes (+1000 fancy homes) there but can’t go ahead because it’s outside city limits (he’s working hard to change this)

#2: Full day tourist excursion up the Wairoa river

  • Premise: “Why drop off 2000 cruise ship passengers straight into shuttles that drive to Rotorua?”
  • Solution: Create a Maori based cultural Tourist Attraction which involves a paddle up the Wairoa river in Waka, lunch at a new facility on a historic site, and a Waka trip back down the river

#3: Cycling track along the Wairoa river

  • Premise: “Need to build a network of cycle ways? Why not along the Wairoa river?”
  • Solution: He offered to donate the land and build his section of the track at no cost

And you might not have heard his ideas on the following topics.

A Collection of 7 Bob Clarkson Thoughts

#1: Bob Clarkson on the Route K toll road:

“Instead of installing several round-abouts along Cameron Road to slow down traffic and increase demand for the Route K toll out of frustration with congestion, just remove the toll!”

#2: Bob Clarkson on the high-rises at Mount Maunganui

“Instead of concentrating the high-rises all in the corner where the newest buildings create shadows for the older ones, allow high-rises right along the coast to Papamoa strictly at 300m intervals”

#3: Bob Clarkson on consultants fees

“I hate it when tax-payers money is wasted. There is always a way to build it 1.5 times the size for less. It’s consultants fees that you’ve got to watch the most carefully. Their input is important, but you’ve got to control them rather than the other way around”

“Don’t let consultants take control. If they warn you about something with a remote possibility that will cost millions to mitigate, be brave enough to accept that small risk, ignore the advice and move on with the plan”

#4: Bob Clarkson on the secret of life

“The secret to life is asking questions. Beauracrats hate it when people ask questions because they’re scared of exposing how little they know”

#5: Bob Clarkson on decision making

“If I’m going to do something I ask 50 people questions about it. I decide if what they say is helpful or unhelpful. Then I make the decision”

#6: Bob Clarkson on investing your heart and sole into a project

“When you invest in a building project with your heart (not just your wallet), when you get attacked it’s easy to get a broken heart. Those attacks really hurt”

#7: Bob Clarkson on industry

“We need more industrial buildings to give young people jobs and keep them off the streets – then you wouldn’t need to build a new police station”

All-in-all I think he’s awesome.

He tells me that people hassle him that his building projects benefit the community and make money for him.

Well you work for a living (either for an employer or for yourself), and you draw down money (in salary/wages or drawings) to compensate you for your time, right? This is exactly the same but just at a much larger scale.

What’s Next?

At this stage Bob won’t be able to speak at TEDx Tauranga because of health issues.

My vision for TEDx Tauranga is to inspire people to stand up and get out of their comfort zones and make their own dent in the universe.

So at least he inspired one person this weekend (me), and perhaps by reading this article you are inspired too?

So what are you going to build?

Tell me in the comments below.


I’m no court reporter. I wrote my notes by hand, and today I’m here interpreting those notes. When I quote Bob Clarkson I’m actually just telling you my interpretation of what I think he said. You’ll have to give him a call if you want to clarify anything.