Carl Mossman

When Carl Mossman started with A. Balfour Ltd in Cambridge in January 1972 he probably never envisaged he would work for the same company for the next 40 years.

Balfours Cambridge was the roofing and plumbing outlet for the Tauranga based manufacturing operation of A Balfour Ltd, foundered by Sandy Balfour in 1946. Sandy had aspiration’s to expand into the fast growing rural sector of the Waikato and when Carl joined Tom Roper as a 2 man team he was responsible for delivering galvanized roofing, spouting, downpipe, flat iron and associated roofing products throughout the Waikato, King
Country rural towns and farming areas.

Carl recalls some interesting and now historic events of days gone by;

“Balfours had a rima spouting machine and were one of the largest manufactures in the region producing 1000s of feet annually.

Galvanized water tanks were a big seller in those days and we had a trailer that was towed by an articulated truck with up to 6 tanks a load. We had a dedicated tank maker in the factory at Tauranga rolling tank iron and fabricating tanks.

Delivering them wasn’t without it’s challenges and a number never made their destination in one piece. Plumbers and merchants made up the bulk of our customer base. Dalgety, J. Jones, Newton King, Ellis and Burnand, TTT and Andrew M Patterson are some of the merchants that come to mind. Most Plumbers had an 8ft folder and
guillotine and purchased flat iron in either 8x3 or 8x4 sheets in 26g and 24g for manufacturing flashings.

Unloading 1 ton packs of flat sheet was a time consuming process so we hooked a chain and pully system to the rafters of garage in Cambridge. We soon found the weight was more than the structure could handle and after breaking a couple of trusses had to revert to manual handling.

The landscape was very different from today. We had no fax machines, computers, calculators, forklifts, hiab trucks or mobile phones. Prices were set by the Auckland Spouting and Downpipe Manufactures Association and price books comprised of rates for Merchants, Resellers, Trade and Retail. A reseller was any plumbers
outlet that displayed a toilet pan in the window of their workshop.

Corrugated galvanized iron was the staple product and every day we hand loaded and unloaded tonnes of iron for delivery around the Waikato . Most of our corrugated iron was imported in standard lengths of 6ft, 8ft, 10ft, and 12ft and our longrun requirements came from Reese Run Roofing in Hamilton.

My role was diverse and apart from deliveries included taking phone orders, handling customer enquiries, quoting and pricing. All our invoices were hand written and had to be priced using a ready reckoner. (try invoicing 45 sheets 11 foot 4 inches at 31.5 cent per foot with a ready reckoner that didn’t have half cents). When I ran out of something to do I made barge roll to fill in the day. Most of our accessory items like lead head nails, building paper, unifoil, netting, solder, lead sheet and copper tube came into Cambridge by rail and had to be cleared daily.

Later that year we took on an agency for Paneldek 8 inch tray section and 5 and 7 inch paneldek slotted gutter which was manufactured in Wellington at the time and was railed to Cambridge with orders taking on average 2 weeks to arrive. Run to length was gaining in popularity and sheet lengths were restricted to wagon size and delivering long loads was another challenge. Sheets had to be draped over the cab of the truck with the balance of the load cantilevered over the back of the trailer.

My first visit to NZ Steel came in July 1973 when we were invited to view the galvanizing line at Glenbrook.

Our first painted product came from Hunter Douglas with a selection of 3 colours; nut brown, torres blue and gold. Our first order went on to two spec. homes in Tokoroa.

My most interesting experience came when we took an agency for Dilwyn tiles. Unfortunately our first project was a disaster as I supplied steel clouts only to find rust marks on the tiles 3 days later and so I spent the next 2 days, in searing heat, pulling the clouts with a pair of side cutters on a 30 degree pitch. It didn’t finish there! I damaged a number of tiles and had to the replace about 50 but unfortunately the colour didn’t match so I had to