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Humble beginnings for roofing firm

Kim Stewart Dec 12
Humble beginnings for roofing firm
A 22,000 square metre roof for shed 16 at the Port of Tauranga and the installation of all the cladding and flashings on a bulk cargo hopper bound for Townsville (opposite page) have been two significant projects for Mt Maunganui company Harkin Roofing.

Approximately 35 years ago Rex Harkin told his father he was going to go into business on his own and start a commercial roofing company.

His father told him it would never work as in those days the roofing was done by the plumbers.

Despite his father’s reservations Rex started the business. It was tough at the start, Rex had a Hillman series 5 which he had to take the seats out of it to create his work vehicle.

But Rex’s wife Sue quickly realised that Rex had a winning combination and she left her job as a teacher at a local school and got behind him.

Together they created Harkin Roofing, which solely focused on the commercial and industrial roofing market.

In 1994 Sue also helped to form the Roofing Assoication of New Zealand which is the national trade association and representative voice of the roofing industry.

Track forward to 2015 Rex and Sue have stepped back and handed over control of the company to their children, Deborah and Brad.

“When we first took over we made quite a few changes and managing change is difficult for both management and the team working for you.

One of the biggest and most important necessary developments was to improve our Health and Safety,” says Deborah.

The decision was made to invest in an edge protection system called Intaks, to invest essentially in future-proofing the company’s ability to meet the barrage of regulatory controls descending around the industry.

“Having our own edge protection system has meant we are not reliant on scaffolding.”

When Business North spoke with Deborah she emphasised how lucky her and Brad were to have such a great team around them.

They have 22 roofers and 5 in the office. There is a shortage of roofers in the industry but Deborah and Brad are always keen to train young keen guys.

Their attitude to this is simple: ‘If they have gone to the effort to walk in our door then we’ll take them on and give them a go’.

Work is generally spread around the wider Bay of Plenty region, though the company has completed projects throughout the north island.

One project which will take Harkin Roofing approximately six months to complete is a new industrial park a stone’s throw from Hamilton Airport.

“We currently have 12 guys working installing a 34,000sqm roof. We believe the key to keeping the team engaged in a project is to mix them up and shift them on to different sites from time to time.”

The company also takes on an engaging array of roofing projects, something Deborah says it has garnered its reputation on.

February this year saw the completion of a 22,000sqm roof for Shed 16 at the Port of Tauranga. “It was a special job for us due to the scale and the success of the project.

We finished it on time and the client was extremely happy with our performance.

“It was a tough project for our team as with a building of this scale there is a lot of monotonous work, however icing on the cake for us was in taking out a National Health and Safety award from Fletchers for this job,” says Deborah.

Harkin Roofing also installed all the cladding and flashings on a large Bulk Cargo Hopper building in Tauranga for Page and Macrae who had it shipped to Townsville, Australia.

Deborah and Brad are extremely proud of what their parents set out to achieve all those years ago and count themselves very lucky to be managing Harkin Roofing with a great team. ‘We love what we do and are excited about the future.”

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