Late Last Century

Late Last Century

1982 – James Gleeson

James, the second son of Brian and Margaret’s three children, wasn’t all that interested in the family business to start. He began driving a crane at the Glenbrook steel mill, which led to him pursuing work in Australia and America in the mid to late 80’s, as the wages and travel opportunities were too good to turn down. James spent those years developing his own skillsets and working on a variety of major projects that broadened his professional and personal horizons.

However James’ international pursuits came to an end in 1990 when he got the call that Brian had been diagnosed with terminal multiple myeloma. A few months later, he was on a plane home to support his family and the business.

When James arrived, Gleeson & Cox was down to around six people. There was a compression of the market with the recession and the share market crash, which resulted in some hard times. People stopped building houses; the government had no money to spend; no motorways were being built. Gleeson & Cox really felt the pain of the country.

Rather than giving up after the diagnosis and recession, Brian became even more relentless and was hell-bent on growing the business. Don was also concerned about what was going to be left, so they had some challenging conversations. Throughout this, James was able to settle back into life in New Zealand, embrace the new business opportunity and start making moves himself, rather than being influenced and controlled by Brian.

In November 1994, four years after his first diagnosis, Brian (Doc) Gleeson died at just 55. This was a challenging time both personally and professionally for James, as Brian was such a significant part of his family and business that his passing left a big pair of shoes to fill.

Gleeson & Cox was at a crossroads, but with James’ winning attitude at the helm, the company was able to rise above their devastating loss, remain positive and look to the future…

“You can sit on it and dwell and procrastinate – and it won’t change anything, because you’re not thinking about the future. If you want to go forward you need to walk forward and make an effort… Nothing comes to you in life.”

– James Gleeson

James had enough influence in the industry by the age of 28, and showed Don that he had the potential to create something big. Don was the front line, driving the trucks and dispatching the drivers, while James was on the road with a cell phone, running to the nearest fax to make a quote. James worked hard to develop relationships and before long had doubled the size of the fleet and won the contract for the Quay St realignment, Gleeson & Cox’s biggest contract at the time.

This contract led to the purchase of six brand-new Western Stars at once, which created a strong presence for Gleeson & Cox as very few companies ran better gear. Soon after, drivers were knocking down the front door to drive them! To all those who had been uncertain about the future of Gleeson & Cox, this was proof they had successfully established their place in the Auckland transport industry and that James was the man to take Gleeson & Cox into a brighter future.

“This was a turning point for the company. We took in a quarter of a million tonnes of metal and took more than a million tonnes of fill out – and I brokered and facilitated that first job. Before that, our biggest job was 10,000 tonnes.”

– James Gleeson