Influential Christchurch builder retires


Graham Armitage, co-founder of leading Christchurch Registered Master Builder company Armitage Williams, has retired. He will be succeeded by Mark Blyth, who has worked for the company for 15 years. 

Established in 1985 by Mr Armitage and Paul Williams, the company quickly grew to become one of the major commercial contractors in Christchurch. Armitage Williams has been involved with many major construction projects in the city, including the Koru Lounge and other buildings at Christchurch International Airport, Canterbury Museum, Christ’s College and the Antarctic Centre. Mr Armitage played an active role in the building industry. 

He is a past president of the Canterbury Master Builders Association and the New Zealand Registered Master Builders Federation (RMBF). He remains a member of the regional advisory group for the central South Island in the Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation, a member of the New Zealand Institute of Building and is a past chairman of the Registered Master Builders Federation commercial and contracts committee. 

Armitage Williams has trained at least 200 young people in building and related trades. “We feel it is our responsibility as a major company in the Christchurch construction industry to continue training young people for the future,” Mr Armitage says.

 Canterbury Registered Master Builders Association president Graham Anderson says Mr Armitage has made a major contribution to the building industry by providing leadership to the RMBF during a time of change. Brent Mettrick, a past president of the Canterbury Registered Master Builders Association and managing director of Stonewood Homes, also paid tribute to Mr Armitage. “He has always been generous with his time and knowledge,” Mr Mettrick says. 

“It has shown in his apprentices and his work with registered master builders at national and local levels that he involves people around him to achieve results.” Mr Armitage began his career in the industry as an apprentice carpenter in 1957. In 1981 he was appointed construction manager of Williams Construction Canterbury where he worked closely with future business partner, quantity surveyor Paul Williams (not related to the founders of Williams Construction). Mr Armitage says one of the most significant and positive changes in the industry has been improvements in standards of health and safety. 

However, he says some aspects of legislation have added to the industry’s costs, and that the application of the Resource Management Act could be unwieldy. Armitage Williams has worked with architects and designers on many well-known buildings in Christchurch, helping to shape the style of the city. But at 65 he feels it is time to move on. “I want to give a younger member of the team an opportunity to develop the business,” he says. He will continue to be involved with sister companies in the Armitage Williams Group, including AW Interiors. Mr Blyth, a qualified quantity surveyor, has worked in increasingly senior positions within the company, most recently as head quantity surveyor. 

He purchased Mr Armitage’s shareholding in Armitage Williams Construction on April 1, and has become a director with co-founder Paul Williams. “Mark has impressed us all the way through with his motivation, enthusiasm and industry,” Mr Armitage says. Mr Blyth will work closely with Mr Williams to build on the company’s achievements. 

He is also interested in expanding its activities in the South Island. He says the future of Armitage Williams will be secured by maintaining its high standard of quality staff through training and planned personal development, and by continuing to provide a high quality of service, innovation, workmanship and performance that key clients and consultants have become accustomed to. 

“I look forward to the continuing support of our current staff, clients and subcontractors. We want to build on these relationships.”

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