This year, Pauline and Jason are celebrating their 30th anniversary of ownership of Gregory Engineering in Picton. We are immensely proud of our three decades in business, servicing our local businesses and community. But, of course, the truth is that this family business started years before 1993. So, in this first blog article for 2023, we thought it appropriate to look back at where it all began with Jason’s parents, Roy and Barbara Gregory.
Gregory Engineering in Picton – How it all began:
At the end of a 1979 summer holiday in the Marlborough Sounds the Gregory family were making their way home to Waikanae. However, on the return trip, Roy hit a log and damaged the stern leg of the boat. The boat was towed back into Picton, where Roy, struggling to find someone to repair it spotted a business for sale. Langdale Marine was on the foreshore at Picton. It was a marine engineering & Chrysler agency that also ran the fuel pumps. Roy made an offer, which the vendor accepted, and he spent the next six months travelling back and forward to Waikanae until Barbara, Jason and Davena joined him in Picton.
The Growth of Picton Marine to GR Gregory and beyond:
Between 1979 and 1993, Roy and Barbara, through hard work and determination grew Picton Marine (which eventually became GR Gregory) into the business that Jason and Pauline would eventually take over and rename as Gregory Engineering.
Roy became known for his can-do attitude, earning a well-deserved reputation as a local engineer who could invent products and solve problems for his customers. He took risks and wasn’t afraid to invest in new machinery or ideas. Roy was one of the first companies in Marlborough to run a Gas Profile & Plasma Cutter with a Magic Eye that could follow drawings.
Over the years, Barbara and Roy enjoyed helping people. They made good friends along the way and built up a vast network of clients. Over four decades since Roy first founded the business many of those clients, or their families are still valued customers of Gregory Engineering.
The Bakers, Fishburn family, Heberley family, Mcmanaways and Peranos, are just a few of the longstanding clients of both Roy and Barbara, who continue to work with Jason and Pauline.
Reminiscing and Funny Stories:
Like any business owner, Roy has tales to tell. Over the years, he took on lots of unusual jobs.
As the business evolved, it became the go-to place in Picton for hydraulics and engine servicing. Roy designed and manufactured aluminium Catamarans for many years, but there were even some jobs outside engineering and manufacturing. The company became involved in salvaging oil and goods from the Mikhail Lermontov when the cruise ship sunk in the outer sounds in 1986. They also carried out retrieval and repair of The Boss and Lady Bug one year at the Pelorus Jack Tunnel Hull Competition in Picton harbour. They emptied coal from the Edwin Fox when it was in Shakespeare Bay prior to its move to Picton Harbour.
Roy recalls many good memories, like the time when Jason, in his pre-teen and teen years used to rebuild outboards. Not realising on sea trial, the customer had forgotten to bolt his outboard back onto the boat before they set off. Out of the harbour they went and down went the motor! They promptly went back to the workshop to pick up Roy with his dive gear and a new boat to try and salvage the motor. Roy made Jason now row out to the area he asked Jason where he thought the outboard had fallen off. Jason pointed to a spot at the 5-knot sign and down dived Roy exactly on the spot the engine had landed. This may have been a fluke, but we like to think of it as a sign that you can always rely on a Gregory to get you out of trouble!
Roy’s greatest achievement:
When we asked Roy what his greatest achievement was, he laughed, saying ‘staying alive’! It’s fair to say that four decades ago, health and safety was not as strict as it is now. On a more serious note, Roy is extremely proud of the young people he has encouraged along the way, including his son, Jason, and grandson, Josh.
Jason and Roy still compare engineering notes. Roy always enjoyed tricky projects and loves to hear when Jason has some on his list. He’s also keen to hear about new systems or machinery that appear from time to time.
The Road to Retirement:
When they could no longer run the business, Roy and Barbara took pride in watching their son, Jason, and his new wife continue the family business. They even came back for a time to work with Jason and Pauline running the company and with decades of knowledge under their belts, training up young apprentices.
Anybody who knows Roy will also know that he was never going to ease idly into retirement! After he and Barbara sold the engineering business to Jason and Pauline, he set of on an adventure overseas to Geneva, Vancouver and Salt Lake City to research golf driving ranges and golf simulators.
Often described as a man ahead of his time he set out to create Blenheim’s first and only golf driving range with the hope to bring first golf simulator to New Zealand’s shores.
Digging, building and land preparation became his job for the next few years successfully creating the first and only golf driving range of its kind in Marlborough alongside a 9 hole par 3 golf course. Unfortunately, his full dream was not to be with his health taking an unexpected turn.
Lord of the Rings & Liv Tyler:
Moving back into to Blenheim and then Wellington soon after, Roy became involved in transport driving the length & breadth of New Zealand with the crew of Lord of The Rings. He enjoyed this role immensely and takes great delight in telling the tale of having breakfast with Liv Tyler on set one day.
Roy has finally slowed down a little and these days takes life at an easier pace. Barbara and he have moved back to Picton to be closer to Jason and family, where they continue to enjoy their retirement.
We hope you enjoyed reading some of the history behind Gregory Engineering in Picton. We plan to bring you a series of articles celebrating our 30-year anniversary. But in the meantime, if we can help you with your engineering needs, contact us HERE.