According to his business card Dan Grams is the Big Dog of Staffy Scaffold, a company name inspired by his dependable staffordshire bull terrier.

Originally in the tourist industry, Grams trained as a builder after enjoying renovating his house. He set his sights on becoming a property developer and in the process noticed that scaffolding in New Zealand could be done a lot better.

"Being German myself, I knew of better systems overseas, but even those systems weren't quite right for the Kiwi way of building," he said.

"It was a factory setup – German with German technology and all of that. So, what we did was have them adjust scaffold to our specifications. They do their testing and we get it tested in New Zealand to the Australia/New Zealand standards as well, because they are quite different to the rest of the world."


Although he was making scaffolds only for his own company, they drew a lot of interest. His first sale was to his former boss and when he placed a scaffold tower at a builders' supply yard interest rose to a whole new level, helped along by the nation's strengthening health and safety regime.

Hasmate CEO and industry commentator Gordon Anderson said the new regime had opened "a myriad of opportunity" for health and safety-related companies.

"Unfortunately our reputation, based on other world figures, is absolutely abysmal," Anderson said.

He considers the success of companies like Staffy Scaffolds is vital for better workplace safety, with the nation suffering 600 to 700 workplace deaths.

Meanwhile, Grams had some personal health and safety issues to contend with.

"My wife and I found ourselves running a small construction company, a wholesale scaffold start-up and two kids under 2. So that's when we decided to wind down the construction and focus on Staffy Scaffold fulltime."

It was a smart move. Millions of dollars worth of Staffy Scaffold systems have been sold in 700 stores around New Zealand and he is now looking to take on the rental market.

Throughout the journey, Grams' best friend and inspiration for his brand, his faithful staffy, is as steady as ever.

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