Harcourt Insulation 2006 Ltd

Successful Christchurch company takes its expertise to Antarctica

Harcourt Insulation is a well known and established Christchurch company, run by its previous owners for 40 years before being bought by Richard and Michele Hindle in 2006. The business specialises in industrial insulation, sheetmetal work and asbestos removal.

“It’s a very well respected company in the industry,” says Richard. “The previous owners wrote the regional regulations and best practice guide for asbestos removal. Originally the core business was bulk industrial insulation and cladding with asbestos as an ‘add on’, but from 2006, the asbestos work has flowed in. We are currently running at 70 percent asbestos and 30 percent insulation, but that will change in the next few years as the asbestos work gets remedied and slows down,” explains Richard.

Asbestos was used widely in New Zealand as a building material, particularly for fire, heating and acoustic insulation.

“It’s a highly hazardous material and has been responsible for serious health issues in Kiwis exposed to it,” he says. “Asbestos is not brought in or manufactured in New Zealand – it’s mined overseas. You can’t reuse it and there is no treatment to make it safe. It simply has to be removed.”

Richard says that after the Canterbury earthquakes there were definitely more cases of asbestos needing removal. “The use of asbsestos was widespread. But hopefully in the next five years we will be finished with the earthquake repair programme. There’s fewer and fewer jobs left to be done – mainly the ones that have been, or are being, held up by insurance company wrangles or jobs that are very complex.”

Richard divides his time between Auckland and Christchurch, while the bulk of his 30 staff are based in the south.

“We are only doing asbestos removal in Auckland at this stage. I guess we’re one of the ‘go to’ people who know about asbestos.”

Richard works closely with the Antarctic Heritage Trust and recently travelled to Antartica to work on the Hillary hut project at Scott Base. He is planning to return in 2018 to work on three other huts on the ice.

“My colleague and I went in December 2016 and stayed for a few weeks to remove the internal lining of the hut. We also helped repair chimney flues and fixed up some of the metalwork. It was a very interesting experience. The cold was an issue for the equipment, but it was the daylight 24 hours a day that challenged us. You lost track of time very quickly!”

When Richard took over Harcourt’s in 2006, he also “inherited” Moore Stephens Markhams associate and advisor Claire Chapman. “The original owner worked with Claire and so we stayed. She is an exceptional person to deal with.”

While Claire handles Harcourt’s annual accounts and general finances, Richard says she’s an important part of the team.

“Claire gives us feedback and from a number of different perspectives. She’s always happy to listen, talk and make recommendations. As our business has changed over the last ten years we have had a number of meetings to discuss implications of those changes. When we were looking at moving into the Auckland market, we worked together on the costs and cash flow. Currently we’re looking at consolidating three of our sites in Canterbury into a single one and Claire is working on this with us.

“She’s a great sounding board and we bounce ideas off her. Claire supports our business with realistic advice – positive and negative – she’s much like a mentor.”


Published autumn 2017.

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