Our History

Our History

Holmes Construction values and respects our heritage and the journey we have been on, while still maintaining consistent growth and looking to the future.

Will Holmes was born in Northland in 1937, the eldest of six children, to Wray and Jessie Holmes. His father Wray worked on the railways and was transferred across New Zealand, before finally settling in Cross Creek, Wairarapa in 1944.

From the very beginning Will was destined to become a carpenter, recalling “my ambition to be a carpenter was so intense.” He spent a good amount of time in his grandfathers shed, and remembers loving “the smell, the shavings, the tools and the timber”. His time would come soon enough, as at the tender age of 16, he secured an apprenticeship with the Wellington Education Board under the supervision of Hec Barker. They did small repairs, maintenance and capital works on the region’s school buildings.

Will Holmes

Cross Creek Railway Station. A P Godber Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library

After Will’s apprenticeship, his friend Graeme Rigg approached him with the idea of forming a partnership. The two started trading as Greytown Building Contractors but soon changed to HR Builders Ltd to avoid confusion with a similarly named company. Graeme had wide experience with commercial construction while Will’s experience was limited to domestic household additions and repairs.

The pair ran the business successfully, growing it steadily over the next few years. As the business grew, so did the need for more vehicles. It wasn’t long before the Holmes fleet was established with vans and trucks sporting the company name.

Will and his wife Linette welcomed their three children, Timothy, Andrew and Felicity, and raised them in Greytown.

Inital Will was working from home. Eventually he secured an old building on Main Street, Greytown, that had once been a jeweler shop and residence. Will first opened a joinery business at this site, slowly obtaining the surrounding buildings which would form the workshop, joinery and offices that is still home to Holmes Construction in Greytown today at 150 Main Road, Greytown.

As the business grew, so did the projects the company worked on. In the early 1960s, they carried out one of their first commercial jobs for the Wellington Education Board at Mikimiki school.

Graeme left the company to pursue a private venture with his wife, at which point the business became Will Holmes Ltd. Although it had only lasted for six years, the partnership had been a very happy and successful one – a period of significant growth. Will would soon be joined by his first apprentice, younger brother Ian Holmes.

Will Holmes Ltd offices

Will’s sons Tim and Andy had their first taste of the construction life while helping out dad (Will) in 1964.

Removal of the old school building at Mikimiki School in 1961.

In 1979, Tim and Andy joined the team, getting a few years of experience under their belts before spreading their wings. Both pursued carpentry and building, with Tim becoming a sole trader in Masterton and working for Fletchers for a time while Andy went travelling, first to Australia and then onto South Africa where we met his wife and established a building company in Johannesburg with over 30 staff.

Tim Holmes

Fortunately for Will in 1988 he managed to lure both his sons to return to the family business. As they confidently took the reins, he stepped aside and took on a part-time role assisting apprentices with their theory. Around this time, Tim and Andy changed the company name to Holmes Construction Ltd. Holmes continued to expand and take on more ambitious projects than ever,

Will being awarded life membership at the Greytown Working Men’s Club.

In 1996 Tim and Andy decided to take the Holmes family business to the next level and so purchased the company from Will.

Shortly after, an opportunity presented itself in Wellington. Frank Wong and his family owned a commercial property on Courtenay Place and asked the Holmes brothers to develop it as a joint venture. The Courtenay Apartments was a highly successful project, and as such, Holmes Wellington was established. The branch went on to complete other large residential developments, notably Soho and Kate Shephard apartments. All the while the Greytown company was growing.

Soho Apartments development, Wellington

Current Managing Director Ben Holmes with his brother Mike and great-grandfather Wray Holmes.

Both the Greytown and Wellington companies continued to grow, and so the decision was made that Tim would base himself in Wellington and Andy in Greytown. The Wairarapa branch diversified under Andy’s leadership, undertaking projects as widely spread as Auckland, Rotorua and the Chatham Islands. In Wellington, Tim began securing contracts with councils, larger developers and the Ministry of Education, among others, growing the Wellington business.

The Runholder, Te Kairanga Winery

After many years of trading separately, it was decided that the two companies should merge. Sharing resources such as carpenters, project managers and quantity surveyors, more could be accomplished than the two companies working independently.

And, in a case of history repeating, Tim and Andy stepped aside to make way for the next generation of Holmes influence. The company is now run by Tim’s son, Ben Holmes, in partnership with Marc Jurlina. As shareholders and directors, they are moving the company into the next phase, undertaking more ambitious projects than ever before.

From L to R: Tim Holmes, Andy Holmes, Will Holmes, Ben Holmes

Holmes Construction celebrated 65 years of business. The company has transformed from 2 staff in 1958 to over 105 qualified employees.

Under the leadership of Ben Holmes and Marc Jurlina, Holmes Construction have stamped their mark on the Wellington and Wairarapa region. Holmes has experienced significant growth over the last six decades and made big steps toward its goal of being the best.

Kainga Ora Owen Street development