Stigma behind CTV firm's rebrand - father

MARC GREENHILL
Last updated 05:00 09/01/2014
Alan Reay
Kirk Hargreaves/Fairfax NZ
DESIGN: Dr Alan Reay's firm designed the CTV building.

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The engineering firm that designed the ill-fated Canterbury Television (CTV) building has rebranded.

Alan Reay Consultants has been renamed Engenium, while retaining the same premises, contact details and many of the same directors. Alan Reay has remained on staff at Engenium.

The CTV building in Madras St collapsed in the February 22, 2011, earthquake, killing 115 people.

A Canterbury earthquakes royal commission report in December 2012 found the building, designed by Reay's firm, had serious deficiencies in its design and construction. Reay should have recognised his employee, David Harding, was working beyond his limits when designing the multi-storey building in 1986, the report said.

The Press understands the new company held a function on September 4 last year to launch the rebranding and made the name change the following week.

Reay ceased to be a director of Engenium on September 5.

The four remaining directors are management mentor and author Reg Garters, former Reay and now Engenium employees Paul Smith and Grant Coombes, and Reay's wife, Barbara.

The new company had previously been known as Reay Consulting Group from its formation in January 2012 until August last year.

Reay did not respond to requests for comment yesterday. Garters, Smith and Coombes were unavailable.

Questions about the timing of the company's formation - a month after the December 2011 release of a Department of Building and Housing report criticising the CTV building design - were raised at the royal commission.

When asked by commission lawyer Mark Zarifeh about the new company's role, Paul Smith said its formation had no connection to the CTV building collapse. Zarifeh asked why a separate company was necessary.

Smith paused for about 25 seconds, then answered: "I'm not sure how to answer that without making it sound wrong".

"The best way to put it would be that we're future-proofing the company so if at any time Dr Alan Reay decided to retire, we have a company set up that can carry on."

Tim Elms, whose daughter Teresa McLean, 40, died in the CTV building, said the name change was no surprise.

"The stigma attached to a company that's designed a non-compliant building that's failed and claimed all those lives . . . it's just hanging there in the background."

Building and Construction Minister Maurice Williamson would not comment on the rebranding yesterday, but said in Parliament in November the accountability regime for engineers was "woefully inadequate" and it was "abhorrent" an engineer found to have carried out poor work could still be practising.

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Williamson said he found it "galling that when I make even a modest statement about how I find the regime unacceptable, I receive lawyers' letters that day saying: ‘Say anything more and we will be suing you'."

Reay is challenging the legal right of the Institution of Professional Engineers (Ipenz) to investigate him following complaints.

A 54-strong group of relatives of those killed filed a complaint with Ipenz and the institute is also investigating a complaint about Reay laid by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's chief engineer.

- The Press

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