While the Maddren name has long been synonymous with the Kumeu area, the company’s award-winning contemporary homes seem a world apart from the Kumeu of the late 1890s. Then most of the land was uncultivated and Kumeu was a village in name only. Those early residents had to make do with a small general store, post office, butcher, bakery and a blacksmith. Today, the region is thriving with people attracted to the combination of countryside setting, restaurants, specialty shops, boutique wineries and easy motorway access to the city. It’s what attracted Tony Anderson and his family to the area. When Tony purchased Maddren homes in (2010) he was buying into both Kumeu’s past and its future.
At first glance it would appear there is little in common with the polished concrete mono pitched roof and stainless steel fittings of a Maddren built Muriwai Beach home and the old homesteads that once dotted the Kumeu landscape. But there is a link between past and present. The men who logged the Kauri and built the first houses had the skills, knowledge and craft to build both homes and community. This was hands on building; timbers sawn by hand, perfection achieved by touch and by feel. At Maddren they are building contemporary homes with techniques and technologies that have stood the test of time. Building fashions might have changed, but craft remains key.
As Rodger explains, “Craft to me is hands on old school knowledge. You need to know the principles and that comes with experience. Craft is not getting something out of a pack, screwing it on the wall and you are done. Quality starts with the foundation and the framing. The backbone of the home must be perfect. It’s what you don’t see that makes the difference.”
That’s an ethos shared by Tony who believes that craft is reflected in the integrity of your work. While most CEOs are more comfortable with the board room, Tony would rather be out in the field. Clean lines and finishes are all hallmarks of a Maddren home and Tony believes that you should inspect your work because quality workmanship is in the detail: “You do it once and you do it right. I Want people to know that the CEO takes pride in the work and where people are spending their money.”
“Put simply" says Rodger; “we know what works and what doesn’t.” And Tony adds, “It’s knowing what products will stand the test of time.” Yet even with over 50 years of combined experience between them knowledge doesn’t just travel from the top down. Every month Tony brings the team together for a meeting where staff members take turns at presenting and sharing their knowledge of building and materials. “We live and breathe building homes. It’s in our blood,” laughs Rodger; “I can remember every home we have built.”
Passion for building brings its own rewards, most obviously reflected in the awards lining the walls of the Maddren office. While justifiably proud of their building achievements, Hannah Irwin (Quantity Surveyor) has her own explanation for Maddren’s success. “We get to know people. We get to know their personality, their character and their dreams. I’m always struck by the fact that several years after building so many clients are still willing and proud to open up and show off their homes.” If you want to create innovative contemporary homes you have to offer something different. “We don’t have standard plans and we don’t show you cookie cutter designs,”says Hannah. As Rodger explains, “Houses are like people. People are unique and houses should reflect their personality”. “People aren’t a number”, adds Hannah, “it takes time to build a relationship.”
As a family owned and operated business Tony is acutely aware that integrity is tantamount to success. “If I say I will do it I will do it. Both of my sons are builders here and I’ve drilled into them my standards!” It’s an egalitarian mind-set that in practice means quite simply there should be no difference in quality between a small traditional family home and a glass-and-concrete modern design. Wife Terena who also works in the Maddren office notes that these values extend to how Tony works with his staff. "Everyone has input. Being family owned and operated matters", explains Terena. Not being part of a franchise has given them a freedom to create a culture where innovation is encouraged but values can’t be compromised. It’s about maintaining tradition but not being traditional. As much as Kumeu has changed over the last century so have Maddren homes. We are building people’s future says Tony.