When we say we have the experience to get the job done, we mean it – at J Swap we’re pround to say we have been in business for over 80 years. J Swap employs four generations of family, along with close to 500 staff.
It’s the dedication of family and our staff, along with a passion to serve the community, which has seen the business steadily grow and diversify over the years. Today J Swap is a strong vertically intergrated company that gets things done.
Founded in 1934 by Joseph Swap the company began by supplying river gravel from the Waiomou Stream that bordered the family’s dairy farm at Te Poi. Loaded by hand on to a single truck, gravel was used by other farmers and for concrete production by local builders on infrastructure construction work in the burgeoning nearby town of Matamata.
The purchase of a dragline digger in the late ’40s saw the company diversify into civil trenching and drainage works and the project to widen the Kaimai road. A major setback in 1955, on a civil drainage project in Whakatane bought the company close to the brink, but the addition of David and Lewis, Joe’s sons to the business and their stubborn approach to getting back on track saw the business return to profitability and grow slowly.
The ’60s saw the expansion of townships like Putaruru, Tokoroa and Mangakino, they needed new roads and subdivisions and J Swap expanded to provide the service. A grader was added to the fleet to build the roads, we did the drainage and the kerbing, a real one stop shop. A bulldozer or two and some other earthmoving gear was added in this period and the business ticked along. But like all contracting businesses we were at the mercy of the work and the weather, struggling to make enough in the busy summers to last through the slower winters.
In 1969 the game changed when the opportunity to own and operate our first hard rock quarry arose. Taotaoroa quarry was a perfect fit for our growing business. When we couldn’t do contracting work for whatever reason we could utilize our skilled staff in the quarry manufacturing aggregates to use when the contracting work returned. Over the years a further 11 quarries have been acquired and with each quarry we have added the diggers, trucks and equipment to service their needs.
During the ’80s and ’90s as the quarries grew, in size and number so did our civil engineering work. We grew our base of work with local farmers, local and regional government and in addition we had some key projects that added size and scale to our operation, such as the Matahina Dam rebuild, earthworks on Waihi Martha Hill gold mine, Tauranga’s PJK toll road and maintenance of all the off highway infrastructure in the Kinleith forest.
To support all the work our trucking business continued to expand and so was the family involvement, generation three were eager to make their mark and shape future growth. Not only were we moving our aggregates to our civil jobs we were also delivering 24/7 to the Port of Tauranga’s new Sulphur Point expansion and continuing with our core trucking work delivering to concrete plants, seasonal work moving fertilizer and lime for local farmers, grain maize from harvester to dryer.
During this period we began a relationship with Inghams which saw us build our first bulk stores at Mt Maunganui to support their need for quality bulk storage. Our two business were a good fit. We had aggregate moving from the Waikato to the Bay of Plenty which exceeded our loads in the other direction and they had grain that needed to move to their Hamilton mill.
The next big thing came in 2002, it was too big and too hard for any transport company to do on their own but that didn’t stop us from saying yes when 1000’s of tons a week of coal needed to get from Tauranga to Huntly power station. It was 24/7 and needed extra men and machines and that is what we found. They were tough but rewarding days but could not last forever, fortunately the next big thing was around the corner.
Our work with Inghams had built connections with commodity importers. The idea of palm kernel expeller to use as a stockfood for dairy cows was in its infancy. We had some space at our Portside Drive bulkstore and agreed to store a consignment of 5000 ton which took close to 6 months to sell. Aided by changes in New Zealand dairy farming practice and summer droughts in 2003 and 2008 the volume of palm kernel has steadily grown. As palm kernel, and other stockfood line imports grew so we needed to as well. We now have purpose built bulk storage facilities at the port cities of Tauranga, New Plymouth and Christchurch complemented by a large facility in Matamata, and operate from facilities in Auckland and Bluff. We process and load out of these stores 24/7 and often now sell more per week than the size of the first consignment we handled. We have added specialist auger trucks to the fleet as stockfood feeding has progressed from in paddock to feedpad and on to in shed systems.
Over all these years with all the changes they have brought the one thing that has and will always stay consistant is our unwavering determination to get things done. The “it’s no sweat to Swaps” by line is as true today as ever.