Business North February 2024

| 97 T T Richard Loader Standing the test of time “The very high quality of craftsmanship and finish is really what has kept us in business for those forty years,” says Nigel Tongs. MARINE Allan Tongs Boat Builders SERVICE & CUSTOM MANUFACTURE DRIVELINE • GAME FISHING • HARDWARE Elevate your industry with New Zealand's Industrial Vacuum Pump Leader. Unmatched quality and local expertise at VABS Ltd VABS Ltd are proud to support Alan Tong's Boat Builders. - Oil sealed Rotary Vane Vacuum Pumps - Dry running screw vacuum pump technology - Side Channel Blowers - NZ's largest stock holding of spares for all makes and models - On-Site Service and Technical support - System Design and Build P: 09 444 4233 E: PO Box 101-116, North Shore City 0745 Quality Stainless and Aluminium Fabrications Operating from purpose-built premise in the Wairau Valley, in Auckland’s Glenfield suburb, Allan Tongs Boatbuilders has this year celebrated 40 years in the business of building beautiful high-quality luxury boats. “When Dad built these premises in 1987 there were thirteen boatbuilders in the Wairau Valley,” says Nigel Tongs. “Today we’re the only one left. That’s a fairly good testament of our craftsmanship and Dad’s keen eye for detail — always striving for really high-quality finish.” Having worked as a young boatbuilder on Milford Marina, and built a couple of yachts in the family’s backyard for weekend pleasure, Allan decided the time was right to be the captain of his own ship and founded Allan Tongs Boatbuilders in 1983. “His first client wanted a little Pelin launch which he built in a small leased factory. Over the years he developed a name for himself as a builder of custom launches. “He didn’t set out to do that, it just worked out that way and we built custom launches for well renowned New Zealand boat designers like Don Senior Boats, Alan Warwick, and Bill Upfold from Elite Marine Design.” In 2018, at a time when Allan was beginning to think about retirement and cruising the country in a caravan, Nigel pitched the idea that the business steer away from custom builds, and focus on putting a 43’ luxury coastal cruising launch into production. “We agreed to do that and the boat we put into production was designed by Bill Upfold. We tooled up a full set of female moulds, and hand lay glass reinforced plastic (GRP) into the moulds to produce the same model boat, fully fitted out. “Whilst the layout cannot be altered, customers select their interior furnishings, colours, floorings, down to what exotic timbers they want used. American walnut and oak have been popular choices in recent times for cabinetry.” Working with Nigel to produce the boats is a team of ten comprised of two staff in the office and eight craftsmen including four apprentice boatbuilders at varying stages of their time. “I have a cabinetmaker who builds all the cabinetry and does a large part of the fit-off. There are a couple of designated laminators, and we have a couple of all-round boatbuilders who do anything from running pipes, laying teak decks, installing handrails or windscreens. “As a boatbuilder, we offer a very broad spectrum of skills to our team, compared to a house builder where there might be a lot of subtrades involved. Here, we do everything inhouse to provide that broad skill base, which really sets you up to be a craftsman, capable of tackling all sorts of challenges.” Nigel says the team have got the build time down to about 6.5 months, but acknowledges there is also an 18-month lead time. “The very high quality of craftsmanship and finish is really what has kept us in business for those forty years. “Dad had a very keen eye for detail, roughenough was never good-enough. We predominantly work on one boat at a time. “The team get very passionate and attached to the boats they’re working on. I always arrange with the customer that when the boat is finished, they take the team for a cruise down the harbour, and that instils a whole lot of satisfaction knowing they created this craft from the ground up.” In the forty years of building boats, Nigel says only two boats have been built for export, the rest has been local market, fairly well spread throughout the country. “Most sales are to private customers typically in that over-fifty demographic. We have also built a couple of boats for an Auckland based company called Ownaship, which operates a boat timeshare business.”