In 1945, Mr Arch Bradford returned from World War 2 and joined Mr Alec Reddecliffe, a local Ashburton builder, in partnership. They incorporated in 1950 under the name of Reddicliffe and Bradford Limited, with each partner holding 50% of the shares in the company. Alec Reddicliffe retired in 1951 and Arch Bradford bought out his share of the business. The growing company’s name was changed in 1958 to Bradford Construction Limited.
Rodger Bradford, the current Group CEO and son of Arch, was apprenticed with the company in 1965 while also studying part-time. He was awarded a bursary in 1972 and spent the next two years in the UK gaining knowledge and experience in the industry. His experiences were to influence the direction of the company. On Rodger’s return to New Zealand, Arch chose semi-retirement and appointed Rodger as General Manager of Bradford Construction to handle the big industry change caused by the adoption of metric measurement. The business adapted and continued to grow, adding new trade divisions over the next few years.
Bradford Construction was able to navigate its way through the difficult trading period of the late seventies at some cost – divisions were closed as work dropped off and competition in rural areas increased.
However, an opportunity arose at this time, because of Rodger’s experience in precast concrete in the UK, to tender for the precast concrete cladding panels for the Christchurch Public Hospital. The company was successful in its bid and set up the precast concrete division. This enabled it to transfer tradesmen from other divisions, who might otherwise have been redundant, to the production of precast panels for this contract.
At the same time, Bradfords established a building division in Christchurch. Things changed again for the worst with the share market crash of 1987 and businesses suffered. Bradford Construction was not immune but held on to its major asset, its skill base, waiting for things to improve.
The Group Structure
Bradfords was restructured in the late nineties, to better measure performance of the various trading divisions, and to focus the staff of each on their particular area of expertise. Four new ‘stand alone’ trading companies were formed, each with its own capital, directors, management, plant and equipment, and each competing in the market for its own work. To better allow each to focus on the ‘process of operations, people and profitability’ it was decided to form a separate company that, with its resources, could afford to employ specialist staff to provide day-to-day office and administrative functions for all. It was also decided that this company would hold land and building assets as a landlord and fund new facilities its client companies required for their growth, thus allowing them to retain their capital for their own day-to-day operations and plant purchases.
In 1997/8, Bradford Building (Ashburton) Ltd, Bradford Precast Ltd, Bradford Painting Ltd, and Bradford Building (Christchurch) Ltd, all trading companies, and Bradford Management Ltd, the administration company, were formed. Bradford Building (Christchurch) Ltd was renamed Bradford and Shearer Ltd in 2001 but all interest in that company was sold at the end of the 2002-03 financial year while the others remained in the group.