May 15th, 2013

AEC: 138 years of Excellence

AEC has come a long way since the company first set up in Ashhurst in 1875 as the local blacksmiths. 

Gone are the horses, the hammer and anvil. Now AEC or Ashhurst Engineering has a few more modern conveniences  such as electricity, to meet the needs of its many local and international customers. “The previous owners shifted the business away from the rural sector,” explains Dave Hoskin, Managing Director and owner of AEC.

A coach builder by trade, Dave joined the company in 1996, taking over the running of the workshop in 1998 and eventually buying the business with his wife Gil. “In the mid to late 90s we started working for State Owned Enterprises in the area of electricity – basically anything to do with the generation, transmission and distribution.”

The change in direction has been a successful one and enabled the company to grow.  AEC now employs 46 people and has three apprentices through ATNZ with two more apprentices lined up to start with the company shortly. It’s been a very positive experience with the apprentices overall. 

Cody Shailer who finishes his apprenticeship in April is yet another apprentice AEC will be offering full time employment to. His predecessor, Alroy Rajah, has also been retained, as was his predecessor, Tony Anderson, who is now one of the company’s leading site supervisors.

Dave Hoskin is noticeably proud of the talent his company has fostered. Therefore it’s not surprising that he speaks so highly of his overall experience with ATNZ.  “I was an assessor and we had another employee who was an assessor too.  I found it quite demanding keeping up with expectations and understanding.

It’s also hard when personalities come into it.  If you like someone and want to get them qualified – you might be too lenient whereas ATNZ is quite independent. They have their monthly meeting, it’s all scheduled. It’s all taken out of your hands.”

Dave says he also appreciates the support of his ATNZ Account Manager, Victor Kirikiri. “Victor’s very well organised.  If any issues arise that need to be addressed, Victor’s got the people skills to take them aside and have a word.” Dave’s been lucky not to have many ‘issues’ over the years. 

He says AEC looks for apprentices through ATNZ who show commitment, are team players and who display good loyalty, a quality Dave considers to be critical to success. In fact all three apprentices currently seconded to AEC are from the same rugby coach.

“You hear people saying that there’s a shortage of tradesmen.  But what they don’t understand is you need to invest in training. There’s no point grumbling – we’ve all got to do our part to keep the young fellas coming through.”