How a high school drop out built a $35m company

Jackson Thomas /

Magnum Hire are now operating out of their new Don Buck Rd site.

He is the ultimate high school drop-out come good.

Liam Field, 54, dropped out of west Auckland's Henderson High School almost 40 years ago at just 15-years-old, saying that "school just wasn't really for me". 

After quitting school he did a number of jobs including earthmoving and sales. He got his start in business with the purchase of a $30,000 digger.

Liam Field is master of his domain in Westgate.

Liam Field is master of his domain in Westgate.

But it all really began at the pub. Chatting to a successful friend who had recently sold his grated cheese business for a pretty penny, he was asked what he was doing now.

Liam told his mate he'd recently started Magnum Hire. So started a fruitful partnership with his friend's finances underpinning the purchase of more heavy machinery which has seen the company grow, and now profit from the expansion of the Westgate area.

"I'm a bloke with no education, but a good work ethic. I haven't had a sick day in 11 years," he says.

Liam Field with his team of "dedicated westies". He employs 20 staff.

Liam Field with his team of "dedicated westies". He employs 20 staff.

"That is the thing, you don't have to be the smartest or anything like that, a good, solid work ethic can set you up for life. Just work hard and good things will come."

For this week's Daily Grind, reporter Jackson Thomas sat down with the west Auckland entrepeneur to talk about what it takes to run a $35 million company that employs 20 people.

What do you guys do at Magnum Hire and what is your role?

Where are a west Auckland based and west Auckland-owned construction machinery hire company. We are heavily involved in the construction of both roads and subdivisions. I am the managing director so I handle day-to-day finances and purchasing of machinery, this morning I purchased a couple of rollers valued at about $170,000 so that is the side of things I handle. Then my partner Dave Parker is the general manager so he looks after everything that goes on on-site at our new Westgate premises on Don Buck Rd. 

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How many machines do you have and how many staff does it take to keep the business going?

We have about 470 machines at the moment, they can go out for three years at a time sometimes so we never have them all on site at one time. We have a dedicated staff of 20 that work out here and 19 of them are from west Auckland. One poor bloke commutes from South Auckland everyday.

What is the most enjoyable part of your job?

Well getting to own and play with all these toys is pretty great, but it is the people for me. Most people who work here never leave and I like to think it is because we treat them properly. I have found that the better you treat your staff the better quality of work gets produced. We have an awesome team and everyone really gets on with one another so that is the most rewarding thing for me.

How can people find you guys or get in touch?

We don't do any advertising or anything like that. The bulk of our clients come from word of mouth but we have a website which myself and Dave monitor or simply pop in and see us. We are at 567 Don Buck Rd. Our friendly team will welcome you in and answer any questions you have.

 - Stuff

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