Whangarei hydraulics specialist McRaes Engineering, owned by South Island-based multi-millionaire Humphry Rolleston, has bought the business of Global Hydraulics and Controls of Auckland, opening the way to accelerated expansion overseas.

The buyout makes McRaes one of the largest hydraulics service companies in New Zealand, employing about 65 staff.

The company will be known as McRaes Global Engineering Ltd and the head office will remain in Whangarei.

Humphry Rolleston, whose wealth was estimated at $60 million in the 2008 NBR Rich List, chairs the board and is one of two directors, the other being McRaes chief executive and well-known Whangarei businessman, Dennis Maconaghie.


Mr Rolleston said Mcraes already operated in several offshore locations in the Middle East and the Pacific, with about 35 per cent of revenue generated offshore.

Maconaghie said they had been looking for an appropriate acquisition for some time, to increase the company's technology base and help create the critical mass needed to expand internationally.

"We looked hard at a number of opportunities and rejected them all because they were either just about market share or they didn't improve our technology levels. The Global Hydraulics and Controls purchase achieves both of these," he said. He said an inhibiting factor on expansion might be the challenge of finding skilled staff.

"There is just not any seriously good hydraulic training in New Zealand," he said.

McRaes was constantly advertising internationally for skilled staff, but recently had only been able to enlist six of 18 needed for a client's offshore project. The six were a mix of New Zealanders and people from overseas. The company had taken on three apprentices and would take on another for the new Auckland base.

The workforce of the expanded business was evenly divided between offshore, Whangarei and Auckland.

McRaes and Global had only two customers in common, so the synergy in the newly-created McRaes Global would provide its existing combined customers with solutions across a wider range of hydraulics, engineering and controls applications.

"We may well pick up a few new local customers but our focus will be on finding new customers offshore," he said.

He said it was very encouraging that a company based in Whangarei was growing nationally and internationally without being bought out - instead doing the buying.

McRaes was recognised by the Ministry of Defence for the quality of its work on New Zealand Navy's four inshore patrol vessels, were built as part of the Ministry of Defence's $500 million Project Protector at the former Tenix Shipyard in Whangarei. Work that McRaes Engineering tendered for and completed was worth about $1.5 million and included installing hydraulics and mechanical systems.