In 1914 Wilbert Mattson established W Mattson Ltd, a plumbing business in Ellerslie. Four generations and 101 years on, Wilbert’s grandson Brett and great-grandson Gavin are running the business. Although the plumbing practices have evolved over time, the business is still based in its original building in Ranier Street, Ellerslie.
With a bicycle for transport and a self-built workshop, Wilbert Mattson started the business by himself in 1914. W Mattson Ltd later expanded, when two of Willbert’s sons, Alfred and Doug, joined the business after completing their schooling.
Alfred and Doug developed a love for motorbikes and cars. In the plumbing workshop they would bronze and weld their home built bike frames and speedcar frames in an open coke furnace with a hand driven air fan. As suitable trucks were not readily available, Alfred and Doug would convert American cars by building their own truck bodies. Wilbert, Alf and Doug expanded the business beyond plumbing into mechanical services.
Alf became the company manager and Doug remained on the tools until their retirements. Alf's son Len and Doug's sons Brett and Scott joined the business, followed by several more family members. At one time, the business had five family members working cohesively.
The company has since maintained a base staff of five to eight tradesmen and apprentices. However, staff levels did rise to meet the needs of specific contracts, such as providing plumbing and water supply services to Cornwall Park Hospital during the Second World War.
Long lasting and loyal relationships were established with commercial and residential customers, their families and subsequent generations. In the early days business contracts were often initiated and conducted on only a handshake.
Plumbing practices have dramatically changed and evolved with the times. One hundred years ago the workshop was more utilised for the production, adapting, alterations or modification of many items that could not be readily procured from a merchant. The plumber was required to learn not only how to fit the item on a job, but also how to firstly fabricate it.
Along with 12 team members including two ATT apprentices, the Mattson family are continuing the business' proud history, with traditional values and service to the community. ATT apprentices Lionel Kum and James Murray are lucky to work in a company with a premises so rich in history, where teaching methods have been handed down through generations.
“Make the most out of the relationship with your apprentices, you never know, one day they may inherit your business.” Brett Mattson