The casting shadows of the great depression were hardly prosperous times to start a new business. But two local men with limited capital and a great deal of enthusiasm rented a building in Nelson Street, Hawera in 1929. Advertising themselves as welders and general engineers, K.S.M (Bert) Croucher and John Henry Crowder decided to form a general engineering business. This was the era of the small dairy factories and the newly formed company serviced and maintained much of their equipment. With the local economy improving in the late thirties, additional staffs were employed.
Production of an automatic coal stoker, developed by the partners, meant the company had the ability to purchase more land and the first of the current buildings extensions were completed. Moving into the fifties the company was producing bakery equipment and had developed a curd mixing machine, which was used in dairy factories and exported to several countries.
Both founding partners died in the early fifties and direction of the firm was assumed by local men Bill Croucher and Bill Green. With the excellent engineering skills and knowledge of Bill Green a natural born engineer partnering him up until his death in 1978 Bill (Harry) continued to ably run and expand the business his father had founded, and even after his retirement provided sound mentoring support and advice right up until his death in 2010.
In 1960 the company further expanded and became involved in structural fabrication. The expansion of Kapuni saw the opportunity for involvement in the petrochemical industry. The building of major dairy factories in the region took the company into the 1970’s with the Kiwi Dairies site at Whareroa involving large tonnages of steel. A crane division was established at that time and a new era of retailing was established with the opening of the present engineering store in Hawera.
After being encouraged to take the management path early on , and after some year as Works Manager after the death of Bill Green the company ownership was primarily taken over by Bernie King NZCE (mech) in the mid-eighties.
Bernie become a well known and respected engineer throughout the engineering industry and he was later accepted as an associate of the New Zealand Institute of Engineering in recognition of his considerable engineering knowledge, technical ability and proven supervisory experience.
Bernie was able to recognize some good business opportunities and believed joint ventures were the best way forward for the company to bid on and secure major contracts for structural steelwork. Several companies joined forces to offer design, fabrication, and project management.
Major contracts included Synfuels Waitara, Museum of New Zealand (Te Papa), Wellington International Airport, Lambton Towers Wellington and major extensions to Kiwi Dairies Hawera. Telecom was the next major business to approach the firm which became a preferred supplier of communication towers. These can now be seen from Torbay in the North to Cashmere in Christchurch.
There have been a number of other long term staff who have made invaluable contributions to the company since its commencement in 1929.
Another company director, Keith Fearnley who recently retired from Croucher & Crowder after very capably managing the engineering division for a number of year also headed up the Health & Safety department, and was in charge of the HR and employment requirements of the company.
Past director Wynn Kirkby commenced his engineering career with the company & went on to ably manage a wide variety of large job contracts and financial services for the company.
Some of the other notable names in the company’s history are Geoff Rowe, Bob Green (Bills brother), Ian Allen and Bruce Zinsli.