Raglan Engineering founder looking to re-jig his life

Peter Williams reckons he’s about ready to call time after more than two decades in business doing what he does best – from welding and grinding and vehicle servicing through to supplying local farmers with tractor three-point linkage accessories or even inventing gadgets.

“This is exactly where I was 22 years ago,” the longtime local identity told the Chronicle from his Raglan Engineering office in the depths of the old Hartstone building on Park Drive. “In this workshop. In this business.”

During the intervening years Peter’s built up a hub of small businesses alongside his workshop, progressively selling each one until – now – he’s largely ensconced back in his “happy place”.

However at 67, and after a recent health scare, Peter’s eyeing getting on with personal projects he’s had planned for years. Things like building go-karts for his grandchildren in the shed being built on his spare section at home on Upper Wainui Rd.

He adds he also has to put his health first, and if someone willing to take over the business came along he’d happily be out of the workshop quick-smart. 

But while he describes himself as “a willing seller”, Peter clearly doesn’t want his business going to just anyone. Ideally, given the history of the place, he’d like to see it sold locally or at least through local contacts. 

That’s no great surprise considering he’s actually worked at the same site for an incredible 47 years all up, starting out as a mechanic for Hartstones as a 20 year old. It wasn’t until the year 2000 he took a leap of faith and set up Raglan Engineering.

“I was nervous as hell (back then),” he confesses. “But everything worked out.”

He emphasises he’s selling only the business – the assets, stock and the goodwill – and is retaining the land and buildings in a family trust. He hopes any new owner will hold onto his two existing employees.

Besides being busy with some pet projects Peter also wants to focus on the cancer treatment he’s undergoing fortnightly. 

On the brighter side there’s an overseas trip in the offing – he and wife Fiona have rescheduled a Covid-delayed Panama trip to next April – and the arrival of a third grandchild to look forward to in October.

Coincidentally the partner of his son Matt – Terri – has recently set up her own business in a separate upstairs part of the Park Drive building.

Terri’s ‘Nature’s Sway’ line of hammocks for newborns is similar in concept to the jolly jumpers of old. The cloth cradles are suspended from a door jamb and Peter – ever the inventor – has helped out by devising a clamping system to hold them in place.

He’s also made for Terri a jig she can use to bend the steel from which the frames are made. “ I like to make these kinds of bits and pieces,” he laughs, happy to see the next generation breathe some new life into the old building.

By Edith Symes