Constant improvement and challenging the status quo is sage advice that siblings Barbara Brittin and Richard Kinnear took from their father Gordon, a pioneer in the development of refrigerated food storage facilities in Hawke’s Bay.
Gordon never went looking for accolades and he wasn’t one to conform but instead, he always looked for how things could be done better.
He was regarded as a risk-taker, willing to take a punt on business opportunities that came his way, and this led to him being at the forefront of atmosphere-controlled storage facilities within the horticulture and meat sectors.
Gordon was a lateral thinker who would challenge the status quo – so-called experts as well as bureaucracy – as he always strived for improving performance.
His first controlled-atmosphere storage complex was in Napier Road, Havelock North, in the early 1980s, and he followed this up by partnering with some American investors to buy the Whakatu freezer storage facilities following the closure of the meat works. Next up was a cool store in Caroline Road, on the opposite side of the railway tracks to Heinz Watties Ltd.
Gordon sadly passed away in 2016 but he had mentored Barbara and Richard well, each taking on his business smarts as well as bringing their own skills to the business, Britkin Construction, which had until then gone under the radar.
Today, what gives Britkin a point of difference to other industrial and commercial construction businesses is that they have skin in the game.
The pair say it’s easy to tell a client that their building will be built well and perform as expected, but Britkin can back it up with a track record of owning and operating food storage facilities.
As well as designing, project managing and building storage facilities, Britkin also has ownership in large modern facilities such as the Henderson Road Coolstores and Hill Road Coolstores used by horticulture leaders such as Bostock New Zealand.
“We have a vested interest. Not only have we built facilities for others but we’ve also built storage facilities for our family business interests, firstly beginning with Dad and the Napier Road cool store through to our latest projects at Hill Road and Henderson Road.
“It’s that experience that makes us different; we’ve worked out through trial and error what makes storage facilities and industrial and commercial buildings function as expected. We also understand the technology and innovations in the storage of food products, the logistics of moving products and the importance of ensuring that a storage facility is efficient and highly productive.”
Richard says Britkin adds more value to a client than just constructing a building.
“We like to be involved very early on in a project, when the client decides to build but they might not have found land to build on.
“We can help them identify the most suitable piece of land, help them navigate through the council consents process, offer advice on financing the project and then provide input into the design, based on years of experience. We then project manage and build the facility.
“We’ve been walking in and out of industrial and commercial buildings since we were kids and from our teens, we worked for Dad in storage facilities to now operating storage facilities.
“We’re not a construction company that just hunts out a tender and builds the complex; our value to the client starts much earlier and we can lead them on a journey to creating a high-performing and cost-effective facility, whether it be a cool store, a commercial office or a chicken farm.”
Britkin has been a long-standing construction partner to the Bostock Group of businesses, which includes fruit and squash facilities through to large-scale chicken farm buildings and a chicken processing facility for the Bostock Organic Chicken brand.
More recently, Richard has also been involved in the construction of a Recognised Seasonal Employment (RSE) accommodation facility in Irongate.
“There’s been a variety of projects that we have done for Bostocks and it’s been wide ranging, from fruit and vegetable processing to a chicken factory to worker accommodation.”
In the last year Britkin has also built a 2,900 m2 cool store in Pakowhai Road and a storage facility for animal food nutrition business Ruminate.
Richard says Britkin has strong contractor relationships across all aspects of construction, including geotech, structural engineering, surveying and planning through to technical and equipment specialists.
“We have long-standing relationships with many local firms and we always pull together the best team for the job.”