Read about our 132 year old heritage…..
Allan Broad the son of Brushmaker George John Broad, set up as a draper, largely in Timaru, and later moved to Dunedin. This provided the motivation for his cousins Alfred Carter Broad (AC) and Arthur Broad to join him and immigrate to Dunedin in 1879.
The establishment of Broad's Brush Works
AC married and started a family and coming from a long line of Brushmakers he decided to do what he knew best. He started production in a small two room shed-cum-stable in Cumberland Street with tools and brush fibres he had pre-arranged to be sent from Britain with two other staff members.
Within three years the firm had grown to the point where new premises were essential and in 1885 a new factory was built in St Andrew Street and production started in 1886. The family of ten lived above the factory until 1894, this enabled expansion of the factory into the upper floor and into additional areas of the yard. Work proceeded rapidly, with brushes being supplied not only to the Dunedin area but all over New Zealand.
AC then visited England and the USA, purchased and returned with some of the latest automatic brushmaking machinery, these being erected in the freed-up yard areas. The machines were complicated and advanced for the time, so AC decided to send his son Lawson to the Ox Fibre Brush Co in Frederick, Maryland, USA where the machines had been made, for an intensive study of their maintenance and repair. This proved to be a most successful trip, and as the result of a more effective use of the machinery and the greater productivity, more factory space became essential.
A local newspaper reported:
Going Back to New Zealand.
Mr. Lawson Broad, of Dunedin, New Zealand, who has been in this city for a little over a year, has returned to his home in New Zealand. During his stay here, he has been at the Ox-Fibre Brush Works, where he has familiarized himself with the operation and various aspects of brush-making in order that he may be of assistance in the operation of the brush works run by his father in New Zealand. Mr. Broad will purchase some, machinery. He will then go to England, where he will spend some time with relatives, and then will return to New Zealand alone. During his stay here Mr. Broad made many friends or acquaintances who hope that his visit here has been a profitable and pleasant one."
Around 1908 the old "Albion Soap" factory in King Street [later Great King Street] and Cumberland Street was purchased, providing half an acre for expansion, which proved adequate until 1941 when a further half acre area was purchased. This land contained 18 cottages, possibly a record in New Zealand for population density!
In the 1880’s the output consisted of three types each of floor and yard brooms, banister brushes and scrubbing brushes. However, over the years many hundreds of different types of brooms, brushes and mops for both home and industry were produced. Also, many special types of brushware required by other firms for processing their various products were produced.
In 1897 AC retired and the firm became the Otago Brush Company Ltd.
The Otago Brush Company Ltd
Mr Harry Williams followed in AC's footsteps in 1917, succeeded by Joe Fowell, whose background was the building of steam traction engines in England and had been working a gold dredge in Otago, as well as being involved in the building of the TSS Earnslaw, a steam vessel still operating out of Queenstown. He departed to farm in North Island after twelve years at the helm and was succeeded by Mr Harold Palmer for a year and then by Leonard Frank Broad who had worked for 25 years in the factory before spending 21 years as manager. He was followed by Mr S Taylor who managed the firm from 1957 to 1973.
The Otago Brush Co Ltd began an association with a Christchurch firm, Bunting and Company in 1927, (they had factories in Fiji as well as Christchurch and Auckland) but continued to trade separately until 1961 when it was decided to sell all brushes under the Bunting name, and after a few years the directors decided to rationalise by relocating both the Dunedin and the Christchurch factories in Auckland, resulting in the closure of the Dunedin factory in December 1973.
The anticipated benefits of moving to North Island did not materialise, leaving the firm exposed to a corporate trader: the business was asset - stripped and ceased to exist... or did it? The pheonix arose from the ashes!
The New Zealand Brush Co Ltd.
Four of the senior members of the Dunedin staff who became redundant in 1973 formed a new company in 1974 known as the New Zealand Brush Company Ltd. With considerable business acumen, being aware of the competitive nature of general brushware, they decided to specialise in the niche market of industrial and commercial brushes.
1996 saw the retirement of the last two remaining partners, William Dore and Cliff McAuley, who sold out to a group of Dunedin businessmen, Ross Hammond, Ian McPherson, Charlie Leith and Bruce McPherson.
Mr Dore stayed on for eight months to assist with the business and also there were four permanent staff, three of which had fifteen to twenty years’ experience each.
Mr Leith managed the company from 1996 to March 2003 when he moved to Nelson, from there Mrs Jenny McPherson became the new office manager and Ross Hammond the Production Manager and later the General Manager.
In 2004 Mr Brett Turner (a long serving employee) purchased a small amount of shares. The company has continued to manufacture general brushware including industrial, hygiene, homeware and more recently the introduction of tools, hardware and safety gear.
Due to the growth of the business and the purchase of new machinery the company moved to larger premises in November 2005.
The company has kept its local ownership and has become a highly successful firm based at 4 Otaki Street over 125 years after the settlement of Alfred Carter Broad (AC). His inherited skills have remained, providing employment for the people of Dunedin and supply of quality brushware for industry and commercial use throughout New Zealand.
Whilst we cannot guarantee the exact start date of operation we are sure that production was underway in Dunedin by 1886.
Thank you Richard Green for your research on the History of the New Zealand Brush Company.
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