Happy 21st birthday COMAG
COMAG has evolved from Bruce Magan Ltd, which founder Bruce Magan began in September 1967.
In the early days, Matamata man Bruce Magan ran a small operation of about five people until the company became involved in roofing, plumbing and drainage work on several hotels around the upper North Island for Dominion Breweries, in conjunction with Stanley Construction Ltd.
This was a turning point in the company’s operations in that they widened their base to cover commercial and industrial work in addition to the predominantly domestic work they had been involved in.
A steady growth took place in the 1970s and 1980s until the landslide of 1987, which almost put the company out of business with four major debtors falling
over. Little happened apart from survival until 1992 when the large recession started to ease. By that time Bruce Magan had been holding discussions between five other long term employees with a view to setting the company up as a co-op.
COMAG commenced operation on July 4, 1994, comprising six directors being Bruce Magan, Bill O’Dwyer, Allan Price, Ross Fisher, Tony Wright and Kevin Dare, with Allan Walker coming on board as a director in April 1995. Other staff at the time were Rene Thomson, Wayne Swetman, Stacey Jackson, Brad Wilson, Mark Tempelmeyer and Peter Nelmes.
Today four of these staff – Allan Price, Rene Thomson, Stacey Jackson and Kevin Dare – still work for COMAG.
The 21st birthday celebrations have been a dummy run for the company’s next party, celebrating 50 years since Bruce Magan Ltd began. This will take place in 2017.
Today COMAG have a compliment of 38 fulltime staff
with nine directors. Staff are a combination of directors, drainlayers, roofers, plumbers, gasfitters and administration, who all specialise in their particular skills.
The company is supported by a good network of subcontractors and suppliers, a number of which have supported this birthday feature.
‘‘Not only have we formed great working relationships, but also some lifetime mates and friendships. Without you guys we wouldn’t have had the success or working numbers we have at present,’’ Kevin said at the business’ birthday party.
Kevin says COMAG isn’t just about one person. ‘‘We’re a team.’’
COMAG are deeply involved in the training of apprentices and trainees in all of the skills offered by the company.
Kevin says the company is ‘‘huge’’ on training. It’s something he and COMAG are very passionate about.
Kevin isn’t sure of the number of apprentices over the years, but he has been told by the training organisation COMAG use, the company has had 155 apprentices gain a national certificate in plumbing, gasfitting, drainlaying and roofing since the early 90s. This doesn’t include the 14 trainees the company currently employ. ‘‘That’s not a bad effort in 21 years.’’
In fact, most of the current directors have started as apprentices with the company. Some have gone off and had an OE, which is not discouraged, and then come back to work for COMAG.
COMAG accept they can’t operate a company of their size by working locally. With this in mind they’ve developed a strong culture of travelling and working outside the company’s immediate area. The business has worked in all parts of the country.
However, COMAG have a strong commitment to the needs of the Matamata community. Sponsorship and community donations are a high priority for COMAG, covering all sports including football, rugby, netball, bowls, bridge, golf and racing.
‘‘You name it, a local sporting club or charity and we have more than likely sponsored or donated to it. We help out where we can,’’ Kevin says.
In fact, contributing and getting involved with the Matamata community is part of the company’s constitution.
A couple of the company’s favourite charities have been Pohlen Hospital and the Matamata College first XV. COMAG have been a sponsor of the college rugby team for the past 18 years.
COMAG have been involved in a number of exciting projects over the years. Of note, the company did all the plumbing on Cambridge’s Avantidrome and helped rebuildMt Ruapehu’s award-winning Knoll Ridge Cafe.
Locally, the business has been involved in Kaimai Cheese’s original build and expansion and recently did the roofing and plumbing for the new Evolve gym.
Kevin says it’s a pleasure for COMAG to help local businesses with their new builds or renovations.
‘‘It’s always good to see them go into their homes happy.’’
The COMAG team celebrated the company’s 21st birthday earlier this month.
COMAG have been sponsors of the Matamata College first XV for 18 years.
COMAG have worked on a number of big projects over the years, including Cambridge’s Avantidrome.
The COMAG building has been on Comber St since day one.