Manufacturer’s pursuit of excellence

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By Charles Riddle


WADE, Roy Henry
July 18, 1945 – September 13, 2019

Leading Waikato businessman Roy Wade, who has passed away at the age of 74, spent his entire life working in Te Rapa.

Founder of Wade Collision Repair, he developed specialist vehicle manufacturer the Wade Group.

Over several decades he employed many staff including young apprentices who achieved trade qualifications and attained senior positions within the Wade Group of companies, or success in their own business ventures. Roy always encouraged his staff to reach their full potential and this meant a great deal to him.

Born in Hamilton just weeks before the end of World War II to Jack and Kathleen Wade, Roy, like so many of his era, learned to be resourceful and to work hard to get ahead in life. He lost his father at the age of seven and was raised by his widowed mother in Breckons Ave, Nawton. 

From an early age he worked jobs before and after school, he would be up early to ride his bike several miles each morning to pick up and deliver newspapers before riding on to Forest Lake primary and later secondary school at Hamilton Technical College.   

Roy started work as a panel beater for Clem Ryan and completed his apprenticeship working at Hi Way Services, setting up a panel beating division for owners Les and Alexa Ellison before eventually buying the business in 1976.

Roy met Annette (nee Woolven) in 1966 and they were married three years later, becoming lifelong partners and true soul mates.  The couple had two daughters, Louise, born in 1970, and Alyssa two years later.

Roy established Wade Collison Repair in its current Northway St location more than 40 years ago, but it was a family interest in horses and cars that led to the establishment of the manufacturing business, Wade Group.

Roy’s interest in repairing cars extended to competing in car racing in his younger years, an interest he later shared with his two daughters, Alyssa said.

“Dad encouraged my sister Louise to race go-karts and they would often go to motor racing events together, and my mum and I would go to horse events. Dad often wondered what it would have been like to have sons, but he was very happy to support our pursuits with common interest and like-mindedness.

“I was away with mum competing in horse events most weekends, so the need for comfortable accommodation became a priority, and that’s when Dad said, ‘I’ll build you a nice horse truck’. This led to the build of the first Wade Equine Coach, attracting a lot of attention and the first orders.”

An entrepreneur by nature, and with a growing reputation for quality, and well known for his eye for detail, Roy started manufacturing a diverse range of custom bodied vehicles. 

A Wade Coach, now recognised as the premium brand for horse transportation and owner accommodation, is sought after by equestrian competitors both locally and in Australia, and as far away as the Middle East, where the Royal family of Dubai own a Wade coach.

The company’s pursuit of excellence has seen the company secure large government contracts for the New Zealand Police, Department of Corrections, Wellington Free Ambulance Services, and others.  This year, Wade Group will produce more than 900 vehicles.

Roy retired from his business commitments but continued to be involved and interested in the progress of the businesses and was always on hand to offer advice and support. One of Roy’s proudest moments came not long before his cancer diagnosis in October last year when he attended the New Zealand International Business Awards at Sky City in Auckland where daughter Alyssa was a finalist in the Inspiring Women Leader’s category.

Roy Wade passed away peacefully in the arms of his wife Annette. He was the father and father-in-law of Alyssa, Louise and Barrie and grandad of Sam, Hollie, Emma, and Ashlee.

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