Tower Gates

Adapt and diversify, keys to business resilience

  • Tower-Gates - Wairarapa

    Steve and Derryn Gallon, owners of Tower Gates.

A Wairarapa business that began manufacturing farm gates over 30 years ago has developed into a thriving company that produces a wide range of galvanised steel products.

Steve Gallon purchased Tower Gates in Carterton in 1980, and has taken the business to a whole new level. “We pretty much tried our hand at everything and soon outgrew our premises, so in 1983 moved to our present location at the southern end of Carterton,” he says.

Steve was originally share milking on a dairy farm but says the work burned him out and so he opted for a career change. He has no regrets.

His farming background, however, proved to be an excellent foundation for many of the farm related products that Tower Gates produces, such as cattle gates, stock feeders, dog kennels and crates for utility vehicles.

Archways, picnic tables, ornamental residential gates, fadge holders and fireguards can also be found under production. The company motto, ‘There’s no bull about the strength of our gates’, reflects the rural connection and says something about the quality of Tower Gates’ work.

At the heart of Steve’s business is a “faithful team” of eight employees who pride themselves on their experience, commitment and the friendly way they deal with customers.

They’re versatile too; the team at Tower Gates is renowned for being able to interpret whatever it is that their customers want. “People bring in all sorts of plans for things they want us to make up; often they will bring in a sketch or design and we make it from scratch.”

An out-of-house service that Tower Gates offers is water jet cutting technology that enables steel shapes to be cut from metal; a plus for clients wanting extra design options. Also available is an in-house zinc and electro plating service.

Such is Tower Gates’ reputation that most of the company’s work comes through word of mouth and Steve says they are now working with a second generation of valued clients. “We are very well known in this area.”

The changing state of the New Zealand economy has, at times, proved a real challenge. Steve recalls how the recession in 1986 chopped business by 70 percent. “Farmers basically threw their cheque books away and weren’t spending any money, so we had to diversify our products. That’s when we started to make dog kennels and tables.”

Fortunately, the most recent recession hasn’t affected them at all, he says. That’s testimony to the solidity of his business.

Steve’s advisor at Moore Stephens Markhams Wairarapa is Mike Flower. Mike has known Steve since the 1980s so really knows the business and has seen Tower Gates develop and flourish in that time.

“An area that we find challenging is dealing with the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC). The work we undertake is considered ‘risky,’ but Mike is able to create a more direct line of communication with ACC and that makes life easier,” says Steve.

Mike has also been instrumental in upgrading the accounting system. “We used to deliver everything to him in a box, but we’re learning a new system where all our information gets logged into the computer and it shows up at their end. Now we receive regular updates throughout the year so we both know where we are at,” says Steve.

Published Spring 2014.

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