Firth Industries Ltd

Date established

In May 1925, The Ironclad Products Company was established at Rangiri north of Hamilton by EB and GM Firth to manufacture pumice boiler frames.

In 1934 the company changed its name to Firth Concrete Company and in 1935 established a new factory at Frankton.

Firth Concrete Ltd was incorporated in 1936

In 1939 it produced the first machine-manufactured concrete blocks in New Zealand. In that year it also opened its first branch factory in Stratford, with Jim Ryrie as Manager. Another branch factory was established in Hastings in 1946 and in 1947 one was opened in Rotorua with Peter Humphrey as Manager.

Throughout the 1950's additional factories were opened in Hamilton, Mount Maunganui, Taupo, Putaruru, Hastings and Napier.

In 1952 the company began the manufacture of Rotopress pipes and the following year was approached by the Hume Pipe Company who suggested a 50/50 joint venture company. This resulted in Firth Pipes Ltd being established.

In 1960 a Readymix concrete batch plant was built and the first Columbia block making machine was purchased.

In 1963 Firth Concrete Ltd became a public company, with the issue of one million shares & a change of name to Firth Concrete Industries Ltd

In 1966 Firth Concrete Industries Ltd acquired a Columbia block making company in Waihi. Firth Stresscrete was set up as a 50/50 joint venture in Rotorua.

Kelvin Burgess was appointed Group Accountant in 1965 and in 1967 Laurie Scott and Hamilton Manager, Peter Blomkamp were appointed Directors.
Firth Fibreglass Ltd was formed in 1969 to manufacture and market the Firth compost bin.

Also in 1969, Peter Blomkamp was appointed General Manager and Rhys Thompson succeeeded Graham Searle as Secretary.

In 1970 a new plant at Drury in Auckland began manufacturing blocks. The following year Firth Concrete Industries Ltd became Firth Industries Ltd.

The company acquired Amners Lime Company in Hastings and Conroc Ltd (a readymix and quarry company) in 1972. Tony (G M) Firth also retired as Marketing Director, although he remained on the Board of Directors.

In 1973 the first professional engineer, Roy Carlyon, joined the company as Group Engineer. The first Firth plant in the South Island commenced operations in July and the group acquired Columbia Blocks Ltd in Christchurch. In Auckland a deal was concluded with Fletcher Holdings Ltd which gave Firth a plant at East Tamaki and Fletcher Holdings a minor holding in Firth Industries Ltd.
In 1974 Hume Industries took over the complete interest in Firth Pipes Ltd.[1]

By March 31 1978 Fletcher Holdings Ltd had increased its holding in Firth to 32.3% and in January 1979 acquired the remaining 65% of shares. With this, it also acquired 60% interests in two bitumen-based road construction companies, Reliable Roads Ltd and Waikato Bitumen Ltd, which were to be managed through Fletcher Construction Company Ltd. [2]

In 1980 Fletcher Concrete Ltd was established to integrate the concrete operations of the group, of which Firth Industries Ltd was one. [3]