Engineering since 1929
In May of 1929 two engineers with limited capital but a great deal of enthusiasm rented a building in Nelson St, Hawera. Bert Croucher & Jack Crowder started their business partnership known as Croucher & Crowder Engineering which still bears their name. They had met as fellow members of the Hawera band with Jack being a keen trombone player. It was a bad time to be starting up, at the beginning of the great depression, and they survived and made progress only by hard work over long hours.
Croucher & Crowder Engineering have always been innovators since their very early years, after the original partners developed an important item, the automatic coal stoker in the 1930’s enabling them to purchase more land and the first of their building extensions were completed. This was followed into the fifties with the design, development and production of bakery equipment and a curd mixing machine which was used in dairy factories and exported to several countries.
A cheese press was designed by Croucher & Crowder to compress the large blocks prior to their placement in overnight bed presses, and a cheese trimmer helped complete the production process. Innovation did not stop with the dairy company work. The company produced and patented a number of pastry brakes over the years, from a very basic 1937 model through to the modern fully automated model.
After the end of WW2 a new company called Croucher & Crowder Engineering Co, Ltd was formed and this allowed several employees and ex-servicemen to acquire shares in the company. This was a good move because it enabled new ideas that had been learned by staff while in the services, and also gave the partners the incentive to further develop the company's activities to meet new conditions.
Croucher & Crowder Engineering’s post war activities included the development of an extensive manufacturing programme and in around 1954 the first steps towards entering the structural steel business commenced with the making of standard roof trusses for the new company workshop and office block being erected.
The construction of a simple fixed boom lattice crane opened up a wide range of work in the construction field and outside the local area and the company moved into the business of having a modern crane division for hire.
Croucher & Crowder Engineering Co Ltd workload in the 1960s and 70’s was huge with the commencement of oil production in Taranaki and the commencement of construction of the Kiwi Dairies site (Fonterra).To meet the requirements of the workload and the increasingly more technical demands of the industrial scene extensive additions to the structural shop and its equipment where progressively implemented. This also allowed the company to undertake many large Wellington construction projects, including the museum of NZ -Te Papa, Wellington airport.and the supreme court building.
The company’s industrial equipment sales division commenced in earnest about 1947. After the success of the Hawera store a second store was opened in New Plymouth in 1991 and this has now further expanded to 5 stores through the North Island, under the umbrella of the Tradezone Group. The stores carry an extensive range of welding equipment and industrial tooling and the quality products are backed up with knowledgeable experience and service.
Croucher & Crowder Engineering Co Ltd is still in business today with a current staff of 87, and throughout its 90 year history the company has always endeavoured to avoid staff layoffs even during the quietest times. Business success at Croucher & Crowder has come from the abilities and vision of its people, from shop-floor engineers to the management team.
If Bert Croucher & Jack Crowder were still here today, they may not recognize the company that Croucher & Crowder has become with so much expansion since the early days of a small engineering shop they started but, they would surely recognize our entrepreneurial spirit, our drive to innovate & succeed and strong connections to the community.