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Generational change at Lockwood

Generational change at Lockwood as Andrew La Grouw appointed MD

After more than 30 years in the position, managing director of Lockwood Group Joe La Grouw is standing aside as his son Andrew is promoted from sales director to lead the company and start the next chapter for one of New Zealand’s most iconic family-owned businesses. The appointment is effective immediately.

Joe La Grouw is the son of the founder of the Rotorua-based company which has, since 1951, built homes around New Zealand and across the world. The business was voted New Zealand’s Most Trusted Building Brand in 2013, 2014 and 2016, and runner up in 2015, 2017 and 2018.

“It’s time for generational change which is part of a natural progression; my father made way for me and now I make way for Andrew,” says Joe La Grouw, who will continue in an advisory role as non-executive director. “Andrew has worked in all aspects of the business and proven his capabilities as a successful franchisee and sales director over the past decade. He is ready to take the helm and steer the company into the future.”

Along with change, tradition is highly valued as part of the Lockwood ethos; Andrew says he will take the company in a somewhat familiar direction, but with a twist. “In one respect, we’re going back to our roots as a specialist niche manufacturer. We’re also moving strongly towards design-led thinking and doubling down on the innovation which has, since our inception, driven the success of the Lockwood Group.”

Andrew spent most of his career with Lockwood, including lengthy stints in the company’s Auckland and Christchurch regional offices. He subsequently owned and operated the successful Lockwood Nelson franchise for 8 years, before returning to Rotorua as sales director for the past two years.

He says his experience as a franchisee has informed the decision to move away from the franchising model. “Franchising is a marketing business; we’re a manufacturer with a unique selling point and will return our full focus to production of our construction system, while making it as easy as possible for our partners and contractors to work with us.”

Lockwood Group Limited was founded in 1951 by Dutch immigrants Johannes La Grouw (Joe’s father) and Johannes Van Loghem. Recognising that in New Zealand they were surrounded by quality radiata pine, the pair set about developing an innovative and distinctive engineered building system. The first homes left the production line in 1954, with the very first still standing on its original site. It is one of more than 50,000 Lockwood homes and buildings now found all around the world.

While ‘green’ commercial approaches are in vogue today, the company’s wood-based products have always produced eco-friendly buildings, with a constant focus on sustainable practices using local renewable resources with minimal waste and zero treated timber waste, something both Joe and Andrew take pride in.

The tradition of innovation and quality continues to pervade the business, says Joe La Grouw. “A lot of people ask if we have a Research and Development department. I always answer ‘the company IS a Research and Development department’. We started with innovation and it runs throughout the company, with every member of our team involved in looking at new and better ways to produce comfortable, weathertight and eco-friendly building solutions.”

He adds that echoes of the original design reverberate to the present day, including in the weathertight timber and aluminium Lockwood X Profile joining system.

Today, Lockwood’s extensive range includes premium bespoke builds which are designed to individual customer specification, ReadyBuilt, essentially a completely built and finished home delivered to site, and Classic plans based on current and popular designs which are built on site for clients. It’s not only homes, either; Lockwood buildings include churches, meeting halls and multiple commercial premises, which are found across New Zealand and internationally.

In Andrew’s hands, design-led thinking is expected to enhance Lockwood’s status as a premium brand. “Design is valued by our contractors on the one hand, and by our end customers who choose Lockwood buildings, on the other. Along with our system of rapidly-assembled precision-manufactured building components, this is what makes our company stand out in a busy marketplace. And that’s what all our efforts are going into today.”

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