b'A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWNShop drawings a frontrunner in the detailing industry at theand heavier, recalls Bob. We very quickly timewas onboarded to manage the big shopoutgrew it. The advent of shop drawings played a pivotaldrawing projects. Meanwhile, Merv continuedSo, the trio set its sights on buyingrole in modernising the structural steelto deliver the small jobs (and play cricket witha piece of land and erecting a purpose- industry. Yet it was something that Bob wasDixon & Haddon). built factory. initially dubious of. At Bob Haddon Ltd, heWe were virtually pushed into doing it.preferred to mark out drawings on the roadWorkshop #1 If we hadnt, we would just have stayed small, (when the weather allowed), note all of thereasons Bob.measurements and make the steel from that.Before the trio decided to go into business That all changed when Bob joined forcestogether, Barry and Judy built a 10,000 squareBlasting and paintingwith Barry, who was a staunch convert andfeet steel and hollow-stone block factory at the using draftsman (and former New Zealandtop of Span Farm. Split into two by a big blockA few years earlier, a desire to gain more cricketer) Merv Wallace to produce shopwall, their intention was to give Bob 5,000control over the end-to-end process had led drawings. (Merv also played an important rolesquare feet to run his operation and to leaseDixon & Haddon to establish its own on-site on the Dixon & Haddon cricket team.) out the remainder. blasting and painting operation.Bobs early concerns as to whether theInstead, Dixon & Haddon was formedAt the time, other fabricators had an steel would fit on site were quickly allayed.so they had to make the space work foradvantage over Dixon & Haddon with many He marvelled at how each piece of steel hadthem. A hole was cut in one end so that theyhaving invested in an automated saw/drill a number and all fit together like a jigsawcould slide the steel through. But that didntbeamline. It gave the company pause for puzzle. The process made the workshop a lotovercome the constant double handling. thoughtwhat was its biggest concern?more efficient. There was just one gantry on either sideThe answer was the painting process. By the early 80s, Dixon & Haddon hadand neither ran outside so the steel had toIts a necessity, even today; you have to have outgrown Merv, who struggled to keep up with be dropped at the door, then picked up andcontrol over it, says Bob.the ever-increasing volume of work. Jobs reliedshifted by a mobile crane.In the early days, most fabricators would on getting shop drawings completed quicklyMeanwhile, demand for Dixon & Haddonsput steel on the back of a truck and deliver it for fabrication to begin, so Grafton-basedservices was increasing, the jobs were gettingto a local paint shop. They were at the mercy drafting house Brinlow Technical Servicesbigger, and the steel was getting larger, longerof the paint shops schedule and coordination. 36'