North Shore Scaffolding Celebrates 40 Years
In 2021 North Shore Scaffolding celebrates 40 years of business.
The incorporation date of the North Shore Scaffolding is 1 August 1981, but our company's roots can be traced far back in history.
It all started when New Zealand company Winstones, dating back to 1869, and then the main supplier of building materials such as metal, cement etc. in New Zealand; and Fletcher Construction with its origins in 1909, set up Certified Concrete as a Joint Venture in 1937.
During the building of the New Zealand Centennial Exhibition, Fletcher Construction brought over tube and clip scaffolding from England for the build. The Expo attracted over 2.6 million visitors and took place over six months from November 1939 - May 1940. It celebrated one hundred years since the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, and the subsequent mass European settlement of New Zealand. Some time after the Expo ended, Certified Scaffolding was set up as a subsidiary to Certified Concrete, utilising the scaffolding already acquired.
Image: Black and white image on right depicting Fletchers Truck & Mobile Scaffold from the NZ Centennial Expo - Source: fletcherarchieves.co.nz
Skip forward more than 30 years; and Graham Curran worked at Certified Scaffolding when Tony Webb joined the company in 1973. They worked together in a team of 20+ scaffolders, using the black steel tube and clip. Con Marney, a Brit, had been running Certified Scaffolding since the company's inception.
In 1979 the Certified Concrete joint venture split, with Winstones Limited taking the Auckland and Nelson operations, with the remainder going to Fletcher Holdings. In Auckland, the equipment from Certified Scaffolding became available, and Tony and Graham re-mortgaged their houses in order to raise the money to buy it. Certified gave them a couple of old trucks to help them on their way (the one depicted left in the image), and North Shore Scaffolding started trading on August 1st, 1981. The team consisted of Graham and Tony, and a couple of the guys from the old team at Certified Scaffolding, who came to work for them.
1981 was a tough year to start a company. The country was in recession, and putting your house up as collateral to buy a business was a bold move. For the first six months of it's life, North Shore Scaffolding's office was run out of Tony & Christine Webb’s 1-year old daughters bedroom in their family home in Glenfield. The baby moved out and the company moved in. Con Marney had retired back in 1980, but came back to work part time for North Shore Scaffolding as a draftsman for a few years in the early 80’s. Christine Webb remembers his office "desk" being a chest freezer in the makeshift office in their house.
The gear, which had previously been stored at Winstones yards at Madeira Lane, off upper Symonds Street in Auckland; was now moved and stored in a huge grass field, roughly the size of 5ha, off Wairau Road, between Hillside Road and Diana Drive in Wairau Valley that also belonged to Winstones. Not a field anymore, this one area is today industrial, with companies such as Volkswagen, McDonalds, Mobile, Honda, Storage King, North Harbour Ford Service Centre, and quite a few others occupying the site once only housing Winstones.
Image: Green dot marks North Shore Scaffolding Current yard. Blue Strip is Winstones original North Shore site. (Image Source: retrolens.nz)
After 18 months the gamble started paying off. North Shore Scaffolding started employing, first 2 men, and then a few more, and then a few more. As New Zealand slowly was coming out of the recession, the company continued to grow.
In Feb 1982 the company moved out of the house in Glenfield to a yard located at 67 Hillside Road in Wairau Valley, just a stone's throw from Winstones site (see image above). The lot, priorly zoned residential, was now industrial and the house that had occupied the lot had been taken away. NSS leased the land for its yard, and the offices were relocated to the top floor of one of the existing outbuildings, (painted in red in the image below).
Skip forward to the mid-80’s, and North Shore Scaffolding again needed new offices. The company bought its double office portacom second-hand at auction. They had previously been used at the construction of the Glenbrook Steel Mill second stage and the portacoms where now moved to, and installed at 67 Hillside Road. They still stand here today, housing the offices of North Shore Scaffolding.
Image to the right shows the portacoms being lifted into place.
As the company grew, the yard filled with gear rather than parked cars. The fact that North Shore Scaffolding has managed to stay in the same location since 1982, now employing over 40 people and a whole lot more gear, is a testament to the company’s good gear management. Managing Director Clifton Webb jokes:
“We are the ultimate jugglers, and the trick is to keep 9 scaffolds on site for every one we have in the yard. So far, so good.”
At first, parts of the yard housed a few other small companies, but by 2015 North Shore Scaffolding occupied all of 67 Hillside Road.
In 2008 North Shore Scaffolding reached another milestone, as the Webb family became the sole owner of the company.
In 2011 the company was restructured to incorporate NSS Limited, now trading as North Shore Scaffolding 2012.
Clifton Webb, the son of Tony & Christine Webb, is now the Managing Director, and continues to run the family company from the same portacom offices on 67 Hillside Road in Wairau Valley.
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Over the coming months, and leading up to August 2021, when North Shore Scaffolding turns 40 years, we are going to look at some of our history.
We have dug through the archives and in our article series, we will take a closer look at our people, the development of the scaffolding industry over the years, and various projects North Shore Scaffolding has been involved with that has changed the landscape of Auckland as a whole and forever. This is the first article in that series. We encourage you to read the other articles in this series here and here.