A multi award-winning specialist in slip repair and ground reinforcement works, Earth Stability has a reputation for taking on the jobs no one else wants to touch. Owner Tim Allen tells us about his boutique engineering business, six years in the making.
Tim Allen had been in contracting his whole life and worked with some great inspirational family-owned businesses. He had always wanted to work for himself and saw a gap in the market for a smaller player to take on the hard jobs. In 2011, Tim set up Earth Stability, just him on his own. His office was a bench in the laundry and he had a piece of gravel out the back of a dairy in Grey Lynn. A three-year old and a second child on the way added to the general stress levels. “We’d committed to buying our first piece of equipment with no jobs to pay for it,” says Tim “but as I was unpacking it, the first job came in.”
From the outset, Tim’s goal was to take the hassle out of everything for clients. Earth Stability takes care of all the design and consents and manages the whole process.
“We’re different to our competitors; we’ll vary off-path and do fencing and decking to complete a repair so rather than our clients having to deal with a whole lot of contractors, we do the lot.”
Most of Earth Stability’s projects are remedial in nature – to repair something that has gone wrong and by adding value to that repair Earth Stability gives their clients real value for money. Earth Stability also provides clients with solutions for challenging restricted access projects. They recently built a meditation deck on the side of a cliff – the consents were really difficult on that– and for another client put a glass balustrade on the edge of a cliff following a cliff top repair.
”We’re the company that’ll do the jobs no-one else wants to do and we’ve got great crews who are not afraid of the hard manual labour. For example, on Friday night and Monday morning, the boys and I were unloading 6 tonnes of bagged cement off a barge, waist deep in 13 degree water for a coastal erosion job. We’ve got competitors who’ll do that – only they’ll get a helicopter in.” Our solutions are cost effective with an emphasis on minimal disruption for the client and the environment.
Tim puts the success of the business down to the guys that work for him. “They’re a really special bunch of guys. Our longest serving employee started as a 17-year-old who was working for a builder next door and I watched him working in the rain and thought ‘that’s the kind of guy I need’, so, when he finished school, I employed him. And we’re now helping him through his civil engineering diploma.”
With a crew of 18, Earth Stability is far bigger and more successful than Tim ever imagined, but he’s determined he’ll always stay true to his original values.
“There are a few things you never do in the contracting game, you never let people down and you always do what you say you’re going to do.
"We also put in a lot of effort, up front into ensuring that client property is respected. We try to be as courteous as possible. It’s clearly appreciated. We are repeatedly engaged by neighbours.”
Tim keeps his bank close
Earth Stability has been with Kiwibank from the beginning. “We have a great relationship with our bank manager. We catch up for a beer regularly – his shout always,” says Tim. Earth Stability buys a lot of its plant and materials overseas so it needs reliable international transfers and also needs the bank to roll with it in the event that someone’s late paying.
“It’s an email or phone call and we’re covered, that’s good enough for them. It’s a really easy relationship.”
Earth Stability now runs from a 2,500 square metre yard and building out in Henderson. They’re winning benchmark projects against bigger competitors and every year they’ve won a construction award. “We’re proud when we are up against larger longer established companies, sometimes including those I’ve worked for, and receive an award.”
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