Working in his family’s engineering workshop has been part of Alex Quinn’s life since he was a primary school kid.
“I would get home from school and if you weren’t going to help feed calves, you were probably on the saw or on the paintbrush painting up machinery to send out,” he said.
“It was good, hard work but it has given me so many skills in life that we’ve always said you can turn your hand to anything.”
More than 50 years later, Alex now owns the family business, Quinn Engineering, which is thriving.
The Kerepēhi, Hauraki Plains, business has grown from one worker in the 60s to 20 staff today, supplying tractor-mounted forklifts and home lifts throughout New Zealand and the South Pacific, as well as bespoke design for one-off engineering jobs.
Now they’ve outgrown their current site so are currently building a new, purpose-built, 1000 square metre premises at the Kerepēhi Industrial Park.
Growth and jobs
Hauraki District Mayor John Tregidga said the industrial park was developed by Hauraki District Council to create growth and jobs in the district.
“The closure of the dairy company in Kerepēhi was a huge loss to the community because dozens of qualified employees moved out of the area. They were the people who were taking the rugby teams or school committees and so that was a huge cost,” he said.
“The industrial park is slowly building that back up. So far we’ve got several businesses who have come in, with more than 50 staff. Then you’ve got additional employees from existing companies, such as Kerepehi Transport and Allied Faxi's Ice Cream factory.”
Moving made sense
Alex said moving his business to the industrial park made sense.
“We’ll get better telecommunications, better courier services, and we’re among friends in an industrial site, which means you can operate like farmers - you can just nip across to borrow some tool or piece of equipment you need from your neighbour,” he said.
“The location is also a great advantage, we’re smack in the middle of the Golden Triangle and so we’re close to the major cities: Auckland, Tauranga and Hamilton. We can be parked in Auckland Airport in around an hour.”
A family affair
Leaving their current premises is a huge move for the Quinn family, who have lived and worked on that land for three generations.
His grandfather, John Quinn, was a cartwright, making carts and wagons in Auckland before buying the dairy farm where Quinn Engineering was formed.
It was while Alex’s Dad Eddie was farming the land that the business was established after Eddie saw the need for a specialised piece of equipment to handle hay.
“He got sick of paying contractors or trying to get them to come on time,” Alex said.
“From that piece of equipment, which we call the Bale Boy, came the company named Quinn Bale Boys Ltd.”
In the workshop
As a graduate, Alex worked for his parents in the workshop to pay off the loan to his parents for his agriculture diploma at Lincoln University.
He never left.
“I enjoyed it, I had talent for it, and continued in the company from there,” he said.
Alex bought the company from his parents Eddie and Pauline in 1990 and changed the name to Quinn Engineering in 2003.
Moving to the Kerepēhi Industrial Park had been planned for many years, he said. They expect to be in the new building by Christmas.
“The building has been purpose built to specifically handle the two sides of the business that we run, the engineering side and the lift side, and it’s also been designed to allow for growth and expansion going into the future.”