A Rotorua engineering firm is to merge with a Hamilton business, resulting in at least 20 new jobs, bigger career prospects for local workers and the expansion of the local business.

Long-time Rotorua truck-trailer builders Roadmaster has been bought by Hamilton-based company MTE Group, taking effect from October 1.

Roadmaster owners Ross Bell and Lyall McGee said the business would remain Roadmaster, there would be no changes to operation and personnel and the anticipated strengthening of the company in the market would result in at least 20 more local staff.

As part of the deal, Bell, chief executive, and McGee, design director, will continue working at Roadmaster for the next four years phasing out of the businesses into retirement.

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Roadmaster currently employs 105 staff at the large site on Biak St, paint shop on Geddes Rd, repair site on View Rd and small team at a service centre in Auckland.

Roadmaster owners Ross Bell (left) and Lyall McGee under one of their custom-made trailers. Photo / Ben Fraser
Roadmaster owners Ross Bell (left) and Lyall McGee under one of their custom-made trailers. Photo / Ben Fraser

Between the two sites in Rotorua and Hamilton they expected to employ 300 staff with an annual turnover of $150 million.

Bell said Rotorua would immediately need 10 to 20 extra fitters and welders to cater for the expected increased demand from the merger.

He hoped to employ locally but that had been difficult in the past, resulting in some staff having to be imported from the Philippines and Sri Lanka.

Not all staff need to be qualified with apprenticeships offered, with Bell pointing to one of his "top" employees having started only two years ago with no qualifications.

"If you have got the aptitude you are away laughing. It's more about getting them before the bad habits get them."

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Bell said he and McGee were "bubbly" about the merger and although some staff were initially sceptical most realised the move had been made to ensure the development and growth of the company and security of their futures.

He said current staff would also now have more opportunities for career growth and opportunities to earn more money.

"To be honest I believe it is a win-win situation for everybody," Bell said.

Roadmaster began in 1991 as Roadmaster Trailers and is known for producing a wide range of trailers but is noted for its curtain-sided innovations.

MTE (Modern Transport Engineers) Group stated in 1973 and is known for its bespoke heavy haulage trailers, including the largest built in New Zealand. It is one of the few New Zealand trailer builders to successfully operate in Australia.

MTE Group founder and chairman Robin Ratcliffe said buying Roadmaster was a logical expansion for MTE, offering the market premium general freight trailers under the Roadmaster brand.

"It gives the market the best range of trailer options it has ever had, combing MTE's Australasian resources with Roadmaster's history of pushing the edge of technology and innovation."