Co-founder of the original company, Will Holmes, was born in 1937. Knowing at a young age that he wanted to be a carpenter, he recalls loving “the smell, the shavings, the tools, and the timber” of his grandad’s shed.
In 1953 Will landed his first job; apprentice carpenter with the Wellington Education Board, under the supervision of Hec Barker. Up until his transfer to Butler Bros at 19-years-old, he completed small repairs, maintenance and capital works everywhere from Eketahuna in the north to Pirinoa in the south.
At 21 years of age, in 1958, a friend of Will's, Graeme Rigg, approached him with a proposal to form a partnership and the two of them began trading as Greytown Building Contractors. In less than a year the business name was changed to HR Builders Ltd. (Holmes and Rigg) due to confusion with another fledgling company – Greytown Builders. Initially, Graeme and Will used their own cars and a trailer for transport. As the business grew so did the need for more vehicles. It wasn’t long before there were a fleet of vans and trucks sporting the company name.
In the mid-1960’s the company name was again changed, this time to Will Holmes Ltd. as Graeme left the company to pursue a private venture with his wife. The first apprentice was Will’s brother, Ian Holmes. He has gone on to run his own business on the Kapiti Coast.
Initially, Will worked from home. In the early 70’s he built his family home on the corner of Main and Wood Street in Greytown. Opposite was an old building on a little piece of land that had been a jeweller shop and residence. The building was altered to become a small workshop joinery operation. Will had gained some joinery experience and this was to prove invaluable. Arthur D’Ath “became their first joinery manager, staying for many years until ill health forced his retirement”.
Adjoining the joinery workshop land was the Greytown Scout Den which was removed after arson devastated the site. Will obtained this as well as the residence next to the scout den, from there a workshop was erected. This building has seen a number of extensions and alterations over the years and now houses the meeting room, reception area and offices for both construction and joinery administration.
In 1979, Will’s two sons, Tim and Andy joined the business. Will Holmes comments, “Holmes Construction has been responsible for a lot of trade training over the years and a considerable number of individuals are still working in the industry around New Zealand". Many young men commenced their working life with Holmes and some are still there today. Allan McCartney has been with Holmes for 47 years and others like Paul Bush, Trevor Kenavon and Brendon Lyster have served over 25 years. A significant number have been with Holmes for over a decade.
Tim and Andy took a break from the company in 1983. Tim worked for Fletcher Construction before working as a sole trader carpenter in Masterton. Andy went on his OE and spent four years in South Africa, where he set up a building company in Johannesburg growing to a staff of around 30. Fortunately for Will in 1988 he managed to lure both his sons back to the company. They were keen to be involved in the administration of the business and it became obvious to Will that is was time to step aside. It was about at this time that the company changed its name to Holmes Construction Ltd. A few years later Tim and Andy approached their father with an offer that would see the future of the company prosper and grow, it didn’t require much thought before Will accepted. At Will’s retirement in 1996 he was offered a part-time role assisting apprentices' with their theory.
The family association to Holmes continues today as the third generation is working, and actively involved in the business. Our start as a family business continues to direct our approach.
We undertake large and small projects across the lower North Island, active in markets including; Wellington, Wairarapa, Hawkes Bay, Nelson, and Palmerston North. We are involved in all types of building - from residential, to commercial, to public facilities. We have the required experience and financial strength to undertake large and complex projects. Our approach to all projects is a team based one; our core group of senior employees bring a diverse range of experience to the table for the benefit of our clients.