“look after them and they’ll look after you.”
As Kelvin Lalich puts it, “35 years in the building industry is long enough to have been through a couple of recessions” but, despite Covid, business is good for Kelvin Lalich Builders, the long-established company he and his wife Trish run in their hometown of Morrinsville. He puts this down in part to having diversified away from housing and back towards commercial, in the reverse of a move they made some years ago when tough times threatened the commercial building industry, but it’s also no doubt due to years of establishing a solid reputation. They do a lot of work for the Te Tahuhu o te Mātauranga (Ministry of Education) and for a variety of Māori Trusts, and it all combines to give Kelvin Lalich Builders a healthy list of builds to be done in the forthcoming year. “We’ve got three new houses to start, three new Kōhanga Reo’s to start (Māori early childhood education and care centres), a brand new $1.3 million alteration to start in Waihi Beach on a house we built 20 years ago, so that’s a great privilege to be asked to come back and alter their home, and we also have a new Autotechnics building for Allan Clark which we’ve just begun.”
As is testified by former clients coming back, and government bodies giving them repeat business, Kelvin Lalich Builders is good at what they do. These days they do around 75% of the commercial builds in Morrinsville including in recent years a Mitsubishi showroom, premises for the local accountants and for the local vet complete with surgery, as well as the new Nissan building to name a few. When they were approached about the Autotechnics building it was because the Clarks had been told “they do what they say they’re going to do.”
Kelvin believes in treating clients “as if they were part of my family,” which also goes for staff which includes two people running the office, 15 builders, two full-time Quantity Surveyors. The Lalich motto is “look after them and they’ll look after you” which is no doubt why many of the staff have been with them for several years, “I class myself as one of the workers,” says Kelvin, “not as some big boss that sits up above,” and he still misses not being on the tools himself.
Being part of the Autotechnics build from the start means Kelvin brought his hands-on knowledge of local conditions, and ideas on how to deal with them, to the drawing board for discussion with the Clarks, along with various local engineers for the build and other specific elements as required. Not being able to have the building sitting on a concrete slab thanks to the soil profile in downtown Morrinsville is a good example. “We’ve got 448 piles going down 14 or 15 metres to find solid bearing,” says Kelvin, “the top two metres of Morrinsville soil is really good then it turns to soft moist clay.”
The building will be a testament to what collaboration between experienced locals can do, and not least to the benefits of Kelvin Lalich Builders’ long experience when it comes to supply chains. “We listened to each other’s ideas, worked out what we wanted, and gave it to the engineers to finalise. Then I ordered the materials a good six months ago and they’re drifting in now. I’m really looking forward to working alongside Allan and Penny, they’re real down to earth clients, they operate straight up front just like I do,” says Kelvin.
© Waterford Press Ltd 2022 – Independent Print Media New Zealand
First printed in the June edition of Business North 2022, in association with Autotechnics.