Our History

THE EARLY YEARS

Garry Madill And Old TruckIn the beginning Ian Hall operated four meat trucks involved in night deliveries throughout the local Auckland district. This work was mainly for Foodtown Supermarkets, Hellaby Meats, and the Auckland Abattoir.

In 1970/71 Peter Walker and Bevan Weir purchased the Foodtown section of this work and traded as South Suburban Meats utilising two vehicles. It was something of an oversight that for nine months they operated without the appropriate licenses.

In 1972 Peter & Bevan purchased the remaining two meat trucks from Ian Hall, and held an equal shareholding in Hall’s Meat Transport Limited.The fleet was now four vehicles, and included delivery to Hellaby Meat outlets throughout Auckland.

Ian Hall took a complete change from his previous occupation, and purchased a retail shoe shop in Hunters Corner, Papatoetoe.

Peter Walker was involved in night deliveries with the meat business, and at the same time had responsibility for his father’s company, Jack Walker & Sons. This company had a builders supply yard in Kolmar Road, Papatoetoe, and operated a number of vehicles delivering Firth Masonry products from their depot in East Tamaki to the Auckland market.

Peter contacted Denis Currie to assist with managing the daytime commitments, and he commenced in April 1973, initially for a limited period. This ended up to be near 25 years as the transport operations grew.

In 1974 Peter and Bevan decided to go their separate ways, with Peter retaining the ‘Hall’s’ company, and all the work associated with Foodtown. Bevan took two of the four vehicles, along with the Hellaby Meat deliveries.

It was from this time the ‘management partnership’ between Peter Walker and Denis Currie started to take shape. Peter had a great interest and knowledge in the vehicles and equipment, where Denis had strengths on the business and people management side involving both clients and staff.

In many ways it was an unlikely management partnership, and although there were differences in personal interests and style, it was rare that consensus was not achieved on the many major strategic decisions that became more frequent as the company extended it’s operations.

Until 1982 the transport industry in New Zealand was very heavily regulated, with old established companies being protected by licenses from new and up and coming operators trying to get a bigger share of the markets. Many hours were spent at Licensing Authority hearings with ‘Halls’ being opposed by the old guard of NZ Rail, Refrigerated Freight Lines, Modem Freighters, Roadair, and others.

On many of the above occasions clients of these companies would actively support the ‘Hall’s’ application, having become frustrated by the poor service and excessive pricing of the old and established operators.

In 1980 ‘Hall’s’ lost the Foodtown account, with that company deciding to operate their own vehicles. It was a time of some difficulty for the company with negative growth, increasing costs, and a challenge being able to ‘break through’ into new distribution work.

Deregulation of the Transport Industry was finally adopted in 1986. This was the beginning of an extreme growth period for ‘Hall’s’, and the slow demise of virtually all of the old companies as listed above, who could not survive under a competitive market environment.

Around this time the name Hall’s Meat Transport, was changed to Hall’s Refrigerated Transport. This was to better reflect the vastly wider range of products that the company were targeting apart from just fresh meat products.

In 1987 ‘Hall’s’ won a major account off Modem Freighters for delivery of chilled yoghurt on behalf of NZ Dairy Foods to outlets throughout the North and South Island. This major work commenced in September 1987, and was the first experience for ‘Hall’s’ involvement in the South Island.

Initially the South Island deliveries were completed in conjunction with Neville Brothers from Christchurch. They would bring chilled pig carcasses from Christchurch, trailers would be swapped in Wellington, and we would deliver each others product. However this could only be a temporary measure, and the decision was made to extend operations into the South Island. The first depot was established in Mainfreights Christchurch premises, the ‘pigs’ contract was tendered and won off Nevilles, and the South Island experience was under way.

Much of ‘Hall’s’ growth over these following years was through acquisition of equipment and cartage from the ‘old’ companies who could not survive in the new market conditions. One of the last of these companies to be purchased was Cooltrans Transport in 1993, with branches in Auckland and Levin.

From 1987 branches were established in Napier, Gisborne, Wanganui, Nelson, Christchurch, Dunedin and Invercargill. In 1992 the Spartan Road site at Takanini was purchased from New Zealand Post and developed as the Head Office. Shortly after the workshop was built on Spartan Road, and the Roscommon Road property was sold.

Certainly the period from 1987 had been a time of extensive change for ‘Hall’s’ in all sectors — vehicles & equipment, staff, property, turnover, client base, management structure, financing. The South Island grew to be 33% of total turnover, a very important contributor to the business. The Firth Masonry business was merged as part of ‘Hall’s’ operations.

It was significant that with such rapid change and growth ‘Hall’s’ enjoyed a sound reputation for quality service, and had the essential support of a loyal, committed drivers and Management team.

Hall’s Refrigerated Transport was sold to Garry Madill in 1995, and Peter retired to further extend his interest and success in the horse breeding industry. Denis remained as Managing Director until his retirement in September 1997. He purchased from ‘Hall’s’ the Firth Masonry business which now operates as Masonry Distributors (Auckland) Limited.

It was the end of an exciting and successful era, and a new beginning for Hall’s Refrigerated Transport Limited under changed ownership and management.