Sir Bill Gallagher: Integrity, hard work and smarts spur new knight

Last updated 06:00 31/12/2010
BUILDING TRUST: Sir William Gallagher has helped take the company his father founded to the world.
BUILDING TRUST: Sir William Gallagher has helped take the company his father founded to the world.

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There is Gallagher security fencing around Buckingham Palace, but Bill Gallagher has done far more than just protect the Queen to be made a knight companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

The name Gallagher is synonymous with fencing equipment. Under the guidance of Sir William – and his brother John – the company has grown from the "10-man business" started by his father in 1938 to a multinational, multifaceted company employing about 1000 people globally.

"Father made the foundation, I was the builder," Sir William said.

He joined the Gallagher Group fresh out of university in 1962 and has worked his way up from the shop floor to become chairman and chief executive.

His success has been recognised before: he was made a member of the British Empire in 1987 and a companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 1999.

He attributes his business success to three key factors.

"You've got to have integrity ... working hard and being reasonably smart are the other two, in that order."

He said without integrity there was no trust, an essential element in business agreements, especially when dealing with foreign business partners for whom English was a second or third language.

Sir William's integrity is evident in the fact his business relationships are so longstanding that in some cases he is now dealing with sons or nephews of the original partners.

Gallagher Group has expanded from its original area of expertise, fencing, into animal weighing systems and "keeping people in and out" with perimeter security.

It is also the leading supplier of petrol station fuel pumps in New Zealand and Australia.

A key part of the company is research and development, with 95 people employed to develop new products and keep Gallagher at the top of the game.

Reaching No1 in the world for agricultural electric fencing and for security fencing systems are the two achievements that have given Sir William the greatest satisfaction during his career.

For many, the orange and black logo of Gallagher may be more closely associated with some of the causes and places the business sponsors. The Gallagher Family Hospice, the Gallagher Aquatic Centre and the Gallagher Hockey Centre are just three. Gallagher Group also sponsors the Westpac Waikato rescue helicopter and many Waikato sports teams.

"I guess that's a privilege of being successful," Sir William said. "We give back to the community because New Zealand's been good to us, the world's been good to us."

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- BusinessDay.co.nz

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