In 1946 the late Mr Frank McOviney, an immigrant who came to New Zealand from Yugoslavia (Croatia), established the business now known as Steelfort Engineering Company Limited. His associate company Terrazzo (NZ) Limited had been producing kitchen bench tops for a growing housing market since 1936 and seeing the upsurge in Stainless Steel as the new material of the time, he employed three sheet metal tradesmen to fabricate sink bowls for his “Terrazzo” bench tops. These three personnel finished their employment with the company upon their retirement some forty years later.
In 1946, Mr McOviney acquired the reel mower manufacturing business of Fuller Engineering. This business would strengthen the existing manufacturing base and would become the forerunner of the “LawnMaster” brand that today receives global recognition in the Outdoor Power Equipment industry.
Steelfort confined its lawn and garden activities to manufacturing reel mowers for the next twenty one years and it wasn’t until 1967 that the company released the first LawnMaster rotary type mower on to the New Zealand market.
Expansion came quickly over the next few years and in 1968 it became necessary to relocate to a new 40,000 square foot manufacturing facility on the outskirts of Palmerston North. The 1970s saw major growth in New Zealand and over the next ten years Steelfort expanded its activities to employ in excess of sixty five staff and established the company as a major supplier to the stainless steel and outdoor power equipment sectors.
The 1980s saw a marked change in the direction of the New Zealand economy and with a change of government in 1983 the country was exposed to world markets which necessitated a change in strategic direction for the company’s business.
Under the guidance of the Founder's son, Mr John McOviney, Steelfort looked to diversify its interests and embarked on a programme of not only growing its manufacturing base but identifying internationally recognised products that would combine well with its manufacturing activities.
With the acquisition of Protech Engineering in 1986, Steelfort not only added an additional 45 people to its staff, but also obtained several notable world brands and expanded its manufacturing base to include commercial finned tube heat exchangers and acquired substantial expertise in support of the dairy industry.
Today, Steelfort employs a versatile skilled work force with competencies in modern manufacturing practices that allows it to compete internationally.
Steelfort currently has a portfolio of 17 brands spanning six categories and operates from its site in Palmerston north that encompasses a Manufacturing facility of 11,000 square metres and a Distribution Centre covering 7000 square metres.