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The Smartway Story

How it all began

Howard’s Dad was a joiner and cabinet maker, with a desire to deliver quality work. And as a kid Ann re-papered the lounge, to the surprise of her Dad. Both started young delivering quality they were proud of.

They’re business people and have chosen to be in this industry … to make a difference. Having spent years in client-focused businesses, they now bring that to the building industry.

They ran a business buying houses, renovate them, and then reselling and would have multiple properties on the go, but the lack of common courtesy in the building and associated trades frustrated them. You probably know what they mean … tradespeople who didn’t return calls, didn’t answer emails, who weren’t available. And when you got someone to agree to come … they didn’t turn up. The common theme was “we don’t give a damn about client service” stories from building tradespeople.

Building companies didn’t understand courtesy and didn’t care about the client, their time or what they had to say. Ann and Howard decided that it had to change and created a value-based building company where you (as their clients) were treated the right way.

They started in 2011 and it grew by word-of-mouth, by referrals, by repeat business from clients. They hired more fully-qualified builders with knowledge and experience … people with values.

Smartway Builders work hard on delivering what they promise to you, on keeping you informed on costs and expectations … on displaying integrity and respect in everything they do. They’re on the lookout for great clients to work with, people to treat with respect, who appreciate quality costs a little more.

And at the end, maybe you’ll say “WOW, that’s exactly what I wanted” … and then tell everyone about Smartway Builders and their quality and values.

Over 250 years in the Building Industry

Pre 1800

The Woolston Generations

Woolston generations back to the early 1700’s (and possibly earlier) were primarily coach builders by trade, masters in the art of providing quality end results. In the United Kingdom, it was not until towards the close of the sixteenth century that the wagon became used as a public conveyance, and only very rarely then. Fifty years later in the mid-1700’s, a string of stage-wagons had begun to travel regularly between London and Liverpool, each one starting from the Axe Inn, Aldermanbury, every Monday and Thursday, and occupying ten days on the road during summer – about twelve days in winter. About the same time, three men started every Friday morning for Liverpool, from Lad’s Lane, London, with a gang of horses for the conveyance of light goods and passengers, usually reaching Liverpool on the Monday evening following. Maybe, just maybe, one of our ancestors built one or more of those passenger coaches!

1789 – 1856

Joseph Woolston

Joseph was a coach builder and coach painter in London. We don’t know how many of the coaches in the UK were built by the Woolston family members, just that they were involved. Maybe they built one for the monarch of the time (George IV, William IV or maybe even Queen Victoria)? Coach-building was an art form with a very high quality finish being demanded, particularly by the upper class members … where being able to use the paintwork as a mirror was the expected norm.

1836 – 1875

George Woolston

George was a qualified carpenter and joiner, who came to NZ in July 1874 at age 38, and after 84 days at sea on the Winchester, landed in Napier with his wife and 9 children (yep 9 children!). For those of you into maritime history, the Winchester was a blackball frigate normally on the London to Calcutta run. Built in 1862 at Sunderland by G Marshall, she flew the Marshall flag, and was 198ft long by 36ft wide, and weighed 1157 tons. A 2nd carpenter on the same ship subsequently ended up marrying one of the Woolston daughters as well. Talk about “keeping building in the family”.

1871 – 1938

Joseph Woolston

Joseph (the 2nd Joseph in the family), took up the carpentry trade as soon as he was able. In 1896 he moved to Wanganui and got married the same year. His wife’s father was also a carpenter.  At the time of moving there, Wanganui only had a population of 5936, but presented many opportunities for a skilled craftsman and entrepreneur. In about 1903 he got more involved in buying property and building residential houses, and also transitioned into being a large contractor and completed significant projects including renovations of the high school, new baths, Cosmopolitan Club upgrades, and new town hall, fire station and orphanage.

Joseph was also one of the first people involved in the Master Builders Association and attended the annual conference in 1912, only 10 years after the association started.

1898 – 1931

Leslie Woolston

Leslie was involved in the design and construction of new roads and bridges around Wanganui.

Unfortunately though, his life ended tragically far too early, too early to see his son Ralph continue the family building industry tradition and develop into an excellent carpenter, joiner and cabinet-maker.

1923 – 1992

Ralph Woolston

Ralph trained as a carpenter / cabinet maker and spent many years in the building industry in Wellington. He completed his apprenticeship with Fletcher Construction and spent the war years helping to build transportable units for the troops. A skilled craftsman with an eye for absolute detail he reluctantly put up with his 2nd son Howard’s constant tagging along behind him … asking “why” you did a certain thing a certain way. Ralph was involved with many new homes, extensions and renovations, including building his own home in the Tawa area in the late 1940’s early 1950’s.

1954 – Present

Howard Woolston

Owner of Smartway Builders. Having been involved in the building industry for many years he has an eye for the detail and the ability to translate client wants into practical application.

The next generation as well (through Howard’s nephew Karl Woolston) is also involved in the residential building industry in Auckland. Karl’s a fully qualified and licensed builder, constructing new homes in Auckland.

“A very high standard and within expected timeframes.”

We found Smartway excellent to deal with. Throughout the entire process from the initial discussion right through to the code compliance their communication was excellent, prompt, to the point, answering all our questions in a timely manner and working with us through the build. We had to rework our project a number of times to meet our budget and Ann and Howard worked with us to get what we wanted within the budget we had.

We kept a close eye on our budget with Ann and Howard both excellent in clarifying any questions we had and their invoicing is clear as to what it covers and how much of the project costs remain. The quality of the work was excellent with Jade and his team completing the work to a very high standard and within expected timeframes. The fact that we started our project as the building material supply shortage was just beginning but they had the required materials available for our project speaks to their planning and experience in navigating the difficulties in building in the current market.

I would highly recommend them as a building company to work with on your project and in fact we have recommended them to friends and neighbours who have asked us about our renovations.

Lyndon and Nicola 

“Left the site very tidy”

Smartway were so professional to deal with! Great service, very responsive, excellent standard of work and they left the site very tidy throughout.

One day a builder was carefully sweeping the stairs as they packed up for the day. I told him not to bother. “Cleanliness is next to godliness” he said and finished sweeping.