The Smithbridge Group was founded in 1964 by John Smith, the father of the current managing director Albert Smith, and operated as John C Smith Contractors Ltd in the Rangiora/Christchurch area in New Zealand. The business grew to undertake bridges, pipe laying, culverts, wharves and water and sewer treatment plants. It also expanded to crane hire (having made the first significant crane purchase in 1973), ready mixed concrete production, property development and investment, and farming.
In 1986 Albert Smith joined his father’s company, John C Smith Contractors as General Manager after working in Australia for seven years and soon commenced the North Island division of the company’s operations with the winning of the Northern Wairo Bridge project in Dargaville . On completion of that project in 1989 the North Island division was split from the parent company as Albert Smith Industries Ltd with Albert as the majority shareholder and with a newly established head office in Hamilton in the middle of the North Island. The company soon won the construction of the Sulphur Point wharves project at the Port of Tauranga and the head office was relocated to Tauranga in 1991. A dynamic and innovative leader, Albert has since lead the company to become an industry leader in Australia, New Zealand and Guam, and has participated in projects in Asia, the USA mainland and in the Pacific region.
In 1997 the company jointly won a contract to construct the 340m long Otira Viaduct in joint venture with the McConnell family interests and formed McConnell Smith Ltd to undertake the Otira project and to continue the other activities of Albert Smith Industries Ltd. At the end of this three-year project, the Smith family regained control of the company McConnell Smith Ltd, and its name was changed to Smithbridge New Zealand Ltd.
In 1992 the company commenced activities in Guam, an American territory in the North Pacific, and has since expanded its operations to include heavy civil and mechanical contracting, heavy plant hire, a precast yard and its own quarry operation. Smithbridge Guam now has approximately 150 full time employees and is now a leading locally recognized heavy civil engineering contractor.
In 2000 Smithbridge Australia Pty Ltd was formed and an office was established and headed by Bob Boagey, a Brisbane based long-time friend of Albert Smith and a well know participant in the Australian water front construction industry. The venture was soon successful and field operations commenced early 2001 with the winning of a wharf reconstruction contract at the BP products wharf in Brisbane, and with a piling subcontract for the Port of Brisbane Berth 8 container wharf project, subcontracted to JF Hull.
Albert Smith relocated his family to Brisbane in 2002, and the group head office relocated with this move. The current group head office facility at Paringa Road, Murarrie in Brisbane was purchased in 2004, and this continues as the operations centre for the Universal Cranes hire business and as the Smithbridge group head office. The group focus from 2003 until 2008 was growth in the crane hire industry in Australia, but the Smithbridge activities continued at a steady pace in Australia and in Guam.
Smithbridge Australia experienced a period of solid growth after Albert partnered with Paul Brady as a managing director shareholder in 2005. During this time the company completed the award winnng Kwinana Ocean Outfall, the Port of Brisbane General Purpose Wharf, the Christies Beach Outfall, and several other significant and technically challenging projects.
In late 2010, Paul Brady resigned from Smithbridge Australia to pursue his own independent business interests in the same industry as a direct competitor to Smithbridge. Smithbridge Australia will continue to trade with Brady as a part time shareholder manager until completion of the contracts undertaken prior to Brady resigning, including the Port of Brisbane Berth 11 and 12 wharves and the Brisbane City Cat Terminals. This company will not enter any new contracts until these projects are completed in late 2012 when Smithbridge Australia Pty Ltd will revert to a 100% owned subsidiary of the Smithbridge Group Pty Ltd.
Meanwhile Smithbridge Group Pty Ltd is continuing construction projects in Australia. A new operations manager ,Andrew Manser has joined the team, and a new Smithbridge group construction office has been opened at Murarrie to manage the Australian Smithbridge construction operations. Current Smithbridge Group activities include a wharf reconstruction project for BP in the Brisbane River, the provision of engineering, equipment and key people for marine construction works on LIHIR Island in PNG, and participation in a JV with Seymour Whyte in an ECI project development phase for the Townsville Port upgrade project.
Smithbridge is also active in New Caledonia where our 100% owned subsidiary company Smithbridge New Caledonia SARL constructed the port facilities for the Koniambo Nickel Project at Vavouto. The wharf construction commenced mid 2009 and was completed for use in May 2010. Smithbridge has a continuing operation at Koniambo where a sea water intake is currently being constructed, and Smithbridge are providing equipment rental and other services to the project.
The Smithbridge New Zealand business was sold to the HEB Group in April 2003 under a license and trade restraint agreement with the Smithbridge Group which expired mid 2008. The Smithbridge Group re established an office in New Zealand late 2010 is excited to re-enter the New Zealand market. Smithbridge New Zealand Ltd has a rich history and respected reputation in New Zealand, and anticipates significant growth for Smithbridge in New Zealand in the coming years.
John Smith, Albert’s father, still works as a valuable consultant for the company, and Albert’s own children are also involved in the business. His sister and brother in law own and operate the Sunshine Coast division of the affiliated Universal Cranes. Smithbridge Group also holds a 30% stake in Smith Crane and Constructionin Christchurch alongside Albert’s brother Tim. This company is the major crane rental provider, and a significant precaster and civil constructor in the New Zealand South Island. Despite rapid growth to become a well known and respected international construction company, Smithbridge was and still remains a family business.