From Model Ts to lo­co­mo­tives

Motor Equipment News - - KEEPING IT COOL -

Imag­ine this sce­nario: You own a Ford Model T, but it has a hole in the ra­di­a­tor the size of a 20c piece, and is leak­ing wa­ter like a sieve. And since th­ese things seem to come in threes, your favourite Suzuki 750GT bike has de­vel­oped a leak in its ra­di­a­tor that no amount of Bar’s Leaks will stop, and on top of that, your old truck, you know, the one you use out on the farm, is gush­ing wa­ter too!

How’s about if there was a on­estop shop where you could get all this fixed, in some cases us­ing the OE equip­ment made to pro­duce the ra­di­a­tors back in 1914? Well there is, still in the plant in Walls Road, Pen­rose, Auck­land , that it oc­cu­pied 30 years ago – al­though the com­pany had been formed as far back as 1934.

The com­pany is Adrad Na­tional Ra­di­a­tors, and it’s a haven for crafts­men who have been build­ing cus­tom ra­di­a­tors most of their lives, with the ma­jor­ity of staff hav­ing been em­ployed at the firm for more than 10 years, and some for as long as 25 years.

Na­tional Ra­di­a­tors has played a huge role in the New Zealand mo­tor in­dus­try, dat­ing back to when cars were built here in large num­bers, and, in its plants in Welling­ton, Dunedin, and Bos­ton Road, Auck­land, was a “just in time” sup­plier to the 10 car as­sem­bly plants in New Zealand, pro­duc­ing assem­blies for 100 dif­fer­ent mod­els.

How­ever, the gov­ern­ment de­ci­sion to re­duce tar­iffs on im­ported ve­hi­cles led to a cut­back in lo­cally-pro­duced mod­els, and Na­tional Ra­di­a­tors made a de­ci­sion to close its fac­to­ries, while re­tain­ing the Walls Road plant.

En­ter Aus­tralian-based Adrad, which opened a ware­house in Pen­rose close to the Walls Road plant 14 years ago, con­cen­trat­ing on offering qual­ity im­ported prod­ucts at su­per­com­pet­i­tive prices. And to make things worse, two years later Adrad bought the man­u­fac­tur­ing plant of Na­tional Ra­di­a­tors’ com­peti­tor Radev Ra­di­a­tors, pro­vid­ing the Aus­tralian com­pany in­stant ac­cess to ra­di­a­tor core man­u­fac­tur­ing in New Zealand.

The next log­i­cal step was the ac­qui­si­tion of Na­tional Ra­di­a­tors, and the com­pa­nies merged in Oc­to­ber 2006.

It was a trau­matic time, re­counts Adrad Na­tional Ra­di­a­tors New Zealand man­ager Tara Maylin.

“We had been com­pet­ing and then we had to sit in the same of­fice and be nice,” she quipped.

“We had to join part num­bers, stock and so on – it was a night­mare.”

An an­cient ra­di­a­tor on proud dis­play in the of­fice re­cep­tion

By John Ox­ley

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