From Model Ts to locomotives
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