Up until the mid-1920’s the vast majority of plasterboard was imported from the USA and Canada. However, there were some locals who were convinced that quality wallboard products could be made locally in New Zealand. Willing to give it a go, a group of Auckland businessmen, led by Harold Hitchon, established a small factory, at Balmoral Road in Mt Eden in 1927.
In its first year of production, what was then NZ Wallboards Ltd, produced 1 million square feet of plasterboard. This was a significant amount at the time, especially given the highly manual manufacturing process and strong international competition.
In just three short years, production had grown to 5 million square feet, maxing out the current plant’s manufacturing capability. To service growing customer demand, the company began a major upgrade. International expertise and the latest machinery were sourced from Northern America and after six months of testing and development, the first major Winstones plasterboard innovation was born. A new internal core incorporating plaster and pumice, rather than the traditional plaster and saw dust core, was developed. Creating a stronger and more stable plasterboard sheet.
By 1932 the new Auckland plant was completed, and the new pumice sourced from the Waikato and later the Mercer Sand plant, was put into mass production. The innovation formulation was named ‘Gibraltar Board’. While early production methods were laborious, they also laid the foundation for industrial success. This unique pumice-core product was kept in production right until the 1980s!
By 1945, 50 men were manufacturing 20 million square feet and demand for the material far exceeded the output. Further expansion became necessary and in 1951 the Auckland plant was extended. With this, the latest automatic equipment and continuous drying machinery was installed. Seven years later control laboratories were established with bulk plaster handling and automatic weighing equipment introduced into all plants.
In 1960, more than 72 million square feet of plasterboard was produced and sold in New Zealand and demand from South Island customers led to the opening of the Christchurch manufacturing plant in 1961.
Still on their original site with continued upgrades over the years, the Balmoral Road plant needed a complete overhaul. In 1971, the Auckland plant and head office moved to its current site at 37 Felix Street in Penrose and in 1988 NZ Wallboards Ltd was renamed to Winstone Wallboards Ltd.
Fast forward to 2006, and a 16,000m2 distribution and warehouse facility in Auckland, known as ‘The Gate’, opened to improve customer service and delivery capabilities. The following year nationwide merchant delivery was now available within 24 hours and ‘The Gate’ delivered up to 75 truckloads daily throughout New Zealand. 11 years later saw the opening of another 16,000m2 warehouse and distribution facility at Auckland Airport.
Today, every day, passionate and dedicated professionals at GIB® come together as an industry for the good of all New Zealanders and are extremely proud of their 90 year history.
You can find out more about GIB® at https://www.gib.co.nz/.