PRACTICALITY MOTIVATES: Tony Hatton has set up the Opotiki Trades and Services Facebook group. Photo supplied

A BLOKE who once said school wasn’t for him now cannot get enough of educating himself.

Opotiki man Tony Hatton struggled with maths and other subjects in school, thinking that perhaps he was dyslexic, but after coming back to Opotiki in 2012, he has had a change of heart.

“After spending a few years in Auckland doing painting and decorating, as well as a mechanical apprenticeship, I came back to Opotiki to do dairy farming,” he said.

Then, in 2015, he bought an existing pest-control business, which he built up and re-branded last year as Carpets and Critters.

Covering an area from Pikowai to the Coast via Whakatane and Kawerau, Mr Hatton combats cockroaches, cleans carpets and dries out flooded houses.

“Carpet cleaning is a big part of my job and while pest management is seasonal, it does go throughout the whole year as well,” he said.

Mr Hatton said German cockroaches, which are quite small, can create infestations that number in the thousands.

“They can be found in hot water cupboards, because they like the warmth,” he said.

“The Gisborne cockroaches are big and black, and the New Zealand native cockroaches are golden.”

With a wall full of diplomas and certificates, Mr Hatton said the new health and safety regulations meant people working with pest control and handling hazardous substances now had to be well educated.

“The whole industry changed as a result, but there are still some cowboys out there,” he said.

Having spent two years studying NZQA-based urban pest management, Mr Hatton is also certified as a handler of hazardous substances and is certified by the Institute of Inspection Clearing and Restoration Certification.

Just prior to the Covid-19 lockdown, he had been thinking of setting up a Facebook group for Opotiki businesses.

With small businesses vul-nerable to conditions brought on by Covid-19, he went ahead and set up the group Opotiki Trades and Services, which has 1200 members and facilitates recommendations and advertising for the town’s small businesses.

“Many people have found it effective and it’s 100 percent Opotiki,” he said.

Having joined the Opotiki Volunteer Fire Brigade two years ago, Mr Hatton is just about to start his studies for the next rank, which is a qualified firefighter.

“I didn’t like school, but I enjoy studying and learning now,” he said.

“Now it’s all about being practical.”