Ray Leask Down Under

There are two of us on the Planet. Here’s some text borrowed from www.ruralnews.co.nz under the title “Engiineers celebrating half century”. Thanks to Rural News and Tony Hopkinson. Published on 13th February 2008.

Fifty years in engineering and dairy shed building, Leask Engineering – Ray, Catherine and David Leask – with other family members, staff, suppliers and customers will soon celebrate how far they’ve travelled.

Leask on March 7, 1958, occupied the Tatuanui site the company still works from, 6km east of Morrinsville on the road to Te Aroha.

Leaving school at 15, Leask went milking cows with his father. When he thought there was an opportunity to buy the farm, although only 16 years old, he decided to start a repair service in one of the farm sheds to raise some extra money.

He took a two-week welding course run by the Lincoln Electric Company, bought a Lincoln welder and opened for business. As the business expanded Leask was required to import galvanised piping direct from factories in the UK and France.

By 1957 he was full time; when the farm purchase idea fell through Leask decided to set up in business at Tatuanui. Machinery and tractor repairs abounded.

Next came structural steel work for many buildings – 70-80 schools, freezing works and factories. Leask Engineering worked on the Huntly power station.

When a local English farming family showed Leask a picture in an English magazine of a herringbone shed made of wood, he built one of galvanized pipe. This led to their adjustable head-rail system to allow access for drenching, launching their reputation as dairy shed building experts.

The herringbone work grew quickly until the company was totally committed to dairies six months through winter and structural steel work through summer.

In 1983 Leask began making its Pendulum Gates, fitted or supplied as kitsets. The first went to Harry Clausen, Walton, on March 9, 1983, the year the gates won a National Fieldays Innovation Award. The company has gone on to sell 3300 sets.

Ray and Catherine’s son David joined in 1986 after qualifying as a fitter welder and with a New Zealand Certificate of Engineering (mech.).

‘In my early days, when we were building herringbone sheds, our top figure was 53 sheds in one winter and these averaged 12-16-a-side as well as general engineering and repairs,’ David says.

Now dairy sheds are built year round, moving away from the previous winter bottleneck. Last year Leask supplied and assembled the pipe work for 12 rotary sheds from 44-60 cows, 12 herringbones from 24-40 and one 40-a-side herringbone for goats and a 100-bail rotary also for goats. Already for 2008 they have orders for eight herringbones and 20 rotary platforms 44-60 bails.

See the official Leask Engineering Website at http://www.leask.co.nz/index.php

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