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Homersham History

Homersham Ltd has a history that spans over 60 years. Like many New Zealand businesses our story starts with the vision of one man…

1930's & 40's: The Man with the Caravan

Born in 1915, Brian Homersham was always a practical and inventive person; even from a young age he developed his own workshop to tinker in. His career began at the Christchurch Municipal Electricity Department as an electrical apprentice and went on to qualify as an electrical and mechanical engineer.

Brian’s determination to broaden his engineering experience saw him travel to The United Kingdom in 1939, despite the prospect of World War II. Ever practical, he travelled by sea and worked his passage in the ship's engine room. War broke out soon after his arrival and Brian found himself involved in the war effort in the area of ordnance at the Ministry of Supply.

In 1944 Brian’s fiancée travelled to the UK and they were married that year. At the end of WWII they toured the UK together, visiting selected suppliers in preparation for the company they intended to form on their return to NZ.

This was an arduous task as there was no established company in New Zealand nor was there a list of clients. Brian had to sell himself, the engineer, because of the technical nature of the product.

In mid 1946 within three months of their return to New Zealand, Brian and his wife formed the company B. R. Homersham Ltd (BRH), with a one room office at 82 Hereford Street in Christchurch.

BRH

Brian Homersham   A.M.I.E.E.,  Assoc.I.Mech.E. London


Initially cash flow was extremely tight and the company would have failed without financial help from their families.  Brian's wife performed all clerical duties. To save on hotel bills, they travelled New Zealand with a tired 1938 Ford V8 sedan and caravan, visiting supply authorities by day and travelling at night, so time was not wasted. Brian soon marketed himself as “the man with the caravan”. This intrigued the UK suppliers as they could hardly imagine the nature of NZ’s small market and the distance between one potential customer and the next.

CaravanCar 1

Brian promoted himself as “The man with the caravan”


With encouragement from UK suppliers who saw the potential for irrigation on the Canterbury Plains, BRH began the pioneering of large scale irrigation in New Zealand and went on to become New Zealand's leading irrigation company.


1950's: The Early Years


The 50s was a time of inflation, a taxation burden due to free social services, rising labour costs, and 20% sales tax on imported items. This did not make for easy trading conditions but fortunately at this time the power shortage and the infrastructure growth resulting from this suited the equipment sold by BRH for power electrical applications.

The early years of BRH were spent concentrating on power electrical equipment and battling the bureaucracy of importation and supply, availability, shipping delays & delays by local waterfront workers. Brian had also had a steep learning curve in the commercial and clerical requirements of running a business as there were no funds for a company secretary or accountant.

By 1951 the company had steadily prospered and a city property at 126 Victoria Street was purchased. The operations office housed administration as well as a workshop for assembly and limited manufacture.

The staff expanded to eight with the hiring of Bruce McKay as the first apprentice of BRH. Bruce spent his entire working life of 46 years with the company, playing a key role in the pioneering of large scale irrigation in NZ.                                                                                                   

126 House

126 Victoria Street, Christchurch

                                                                                             
In the 1950’s BRH represented companies that sold a diverse range of turbines, presses, measuring & testing equipment, industrial batteries, line hardware, pumps and more.

To build strong business relationships, Brian built strong personal relationships with suppliers. He began his five yearly programme of overseas travel to visit suppliers and trade fairs when he would be away for three months at a time. BRH was very much a product driven company and many new ideas, sketched on the back of an envelope, came home with Brian.

BRH counted among its customers companies such as The State Hydro-Electric Dept, Ministry of Works, NZ Railways, NZ Post & Telegraph, power supply engineers, municipal electricity departments, city & borough engineers, freezing works, rubber mills, paper mills, breweries and more. There were coal shortages so special attention was given to boiler instrumentation.

Even in the 50s BRH annually tendered for projects in excess of £0.5m and some individual tenders exceeded £40,000. Between 1948 and 1951 BRH doubled its gross returns each year. By 1955 a BRH branch had been opened in Wellington to be close to the government departments that controlled import licences.

The company produced as much as it could as to import meant you needed an import licence and often a letter of support from the customer that the product was essential to their business.

Tradeshow pins

Pins from countries and trade fairs visited in continuous search for quality products.


From the beginning, the diversity of products BRH represented meant it had to produce its own product guides to give to customers as literature from overseas suppliers was irregular and mostly in short supply.

1953 staff

Staff photo 1953



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ftr img2phn2Ph 03 358 8309
phn2Fax 03 963 2016
phn2sales@homershams.co.nz

3 Homersham Place,
Burnside
Christchurch 8053
New Zealand

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