New to being the Chairman of NASH, Jamie Hodgson brings a wealth of industry knowledge to the role, both in terms of years on the board and his hands-on know-how, having steel-related businesses of his own – but Jamie’s love of steel came about almost by accident.
In his growing years, Jamie Hodgson went to St Paul’s Collegiate in Hamilton as a boarder. His parents worked overseas, so he also travelled quite extensively as a younger person, including to Papua New Guinea, the Philippines and Los Angeles. Fair to say he got around a bit, something that may account for his approachable, relaxed character.
After school and a brief early test of the waters at Polytech and a stint working for a building product merchant Jamie returned to Polytech (now New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology) to complete the NZCE Mechanical.
While this was largely for hands-on work, such as welding, there was a design component, too – and this was the path that Jamie followed.
Studying and working for Fletchers
As part of that, Jamie was employed by Fletcher Aluminium as a cadet designer so he worked and attended Polytech part-time for the next four years while completing the certificate – a great way to grow into a career.
Fletchers got their value from Jamie as he went on to work for them for close to 14 years in roles as a Telarc test technician, a designer on the actual aluminium extrusions for Fletcher’s and effectively as the technical services manager.
Driven by his work for Fletchers Aluminium, Jamie set up an aluminium manufacturing company of his own in Hamilton, which ran for three years. During that period, a friend of Jamie’s stored some steel processing plant at his premises. However, rather than having it gather dust and with ready recipients to buy the product he put it into operation.
With far better returns on steel than on aluminium, the company – CH Engineering – progressively grew and evolved into light gauge steel framing manufacturing. “We learned a lot over that period and gradually progressed through to where we are today – CH Engineering is probably the most recognised steel company in the Waikato,” Jamie Hodgson says.
However, this was only part of our new Chairman’s steel-focussed story.
Four companies driven by the power and popularity of light steel
Jamie is the sole director of CH Engineering but together with his wife and business partner Susannah, he now owns four companies – all interrelated through steel framing.
“CH Engineering manufacturers and produces the steel framing; CH Homes, which stands and builds the houses using the steel framing; and then CH Industries, which supplies components and ceiling battens and roof purlins and other products related to the process as well – all out of steel,” says Jamie. “All three are run as separate entities.
“And then there is CH Building Group, which looks after the management of those businesses, and actually becomes the independent house building company as well – CH Building supplies the contracts for building the houses and the other three companies do the work for it.”
Taking the helm as NASH Chairman
Jamie had already been on the Executive of NASH for five years when he was asked to take the helm as Chairman. “Taking on this role was a bit of a step up in terms of varied responsibilities, but we’re getting there,” he says. “The board itself is very busy, too. There’s a lot of R&D for steel framing and we also play a key role in new membership applications, providing information to the wider industry, educating tertiary students – plus there are a whole lot of subcommittees to look after.”
NASH – working hard for our industry
Overall, NASH drives the performance, productivity, and sustainability benefits of light steel structural framing systems for residential and low-rise construction throughout New Zealand. “The hard part for NASH is that New Zealand’s been building with timber for 70-100 years and so people have that mindset – you have to tell them that you’re building in steel and explain the myriad advantages this brings, from strength to convenience to sustainability,” Jamie Hodgson says.