Sixty Years of Construction
Now in its 60th year, DStevens had its humble beginnings in the Christchurch suburb of Cashmere. Founded in 1955 by the late Derek Stevens the company relocated to Gisborne in 1966 to establish itself as a premier construction company, both locally and nationally.
Originally based in Christchurch, Derek Stevens launched DStevens in 1955 by working for himself. In the evenings, Derek took a pocketful of pennies to queue outside the coin-operated public telephone box across the road from his Cashmere home. When his turn came around, he phoned architects, contractors and suppliers to organise the next day’s work. Derek worked hard to establish the company in a competitive Christchurch industry undertaking major construction projects that included high-end housing and commercial work by expanding his team to 12 skilled trademen. In his exacting pursuit for quality construction in New Zealand, Derek lead DStevens to join the Registered Master Builders Association in 1960 – a lasting membership that is highly regarded today by Dereks son, Peter Stevens - Managing Director of DStevens since 1998. In 1966 Derek and his family returned to Gisborne. Derek and his two sons made the long journey north in an old Bedford truck. Peter’s mum, sister and aunt took the train to Gisborne. “When dad returned to Gisborne, he had to start from scratch. He knocked on doors, visited building merchants and put his name out there,” says Peter. One of the first projects he landed was instrumental in establishing DStevens in Gisborne - the high-profile development of Kaiti Mall. While another contractor already had the job to build the supermarket and post office DStevens won the contract to build and fit-out the interiors of the malls other tenancies. Derek and Gisborne plumbing business owner Barry Moss struck up a close friendship and Derek’s connections in the local industry continued to expand as DStevens began to grow.
When Derek set out to find a building to run the construction company from a unique opportunity was presented. The premises on Childers Road have always had a connection with the family. “My uncle worked here as a foreman for a local joinery firm,” says Peter. “The owner was looking at moving on so he offered the joinery business to Derek, we have been here ever since.” In 1970, DStevens saw an opportunity to expand their services again to include Rylock aluminium windows and doors. The service has since grown to become an integral part of the construction company. “We work across a diverse range of sectors from small projects to major ones – civic and community, commercial, education, healthcare, retail, residential, and sports and recreation projects,” says Peter. “Our services are extremely complementary of each other and help our project teams to work across disciplines.”
There have been many hurdles for DStevens to overcome in the last 60 years. New and innovative technologies have had a major impact on the business and the running of its projects. Sue Abercrombie is DStevens’ Administrator. Sue oversees all administrative matters, including accounts, procurement, resourcing and the daily running of their central office. Where Derek once used the public phone-box for communication, Sue uses computers and mobile devices to keep track of the numerous projects and accounts. The company’s joinery and Rylock workshops have changed dramatically in the last few years as the company continually invests in new technology. “We still have some old classics but most of our machinery has progressed to keep up with advances in technology,” says Peter. “There are many exciting changes on the horizon for DStevens. Things are constantly changing at DStevens as we adapt and shift to better suit our clients and the industry we operate in.”