Sir James Fletcher

Sir James Fletcher snr.

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The founder:
Sir James Fletcher (1886-1974)

Born in Scotland, James Fletcher was the sixth of 13 children of John Shearer Fletcher, a builder, and Jane Mongomery Fletcher (nee Goodwin). He emigrated to Dunedin in 1908 where he entered a building partnership with Englishman Albert Morris that later became Fletcher Bros after the first of three brothers joined the business in 1911.

The partnership became a limited liability company in 1916 and was reconstructed as the Fletcher Construction Co Ltd in 1919. Fletcher moved the business to Auckland in 1925 and steered it through the difficult years, winning contracts to build some of the dominion's finest buildings.

After the Labour Party victory in 1935 Fletcher established a strong working relationship with the new government, building some of the country's first state houses. When Fletcher was seconded to the War Administration in 1942, the managing directorship of Fletcher Construction and its public company parent, Fletcher Holdings Ltd, passed to his second son, Jim. James snr was knighted in 1946.

The second generation:
Sir James Muir Cameron Fletcher (born 1914)

The second son of (Sir) James Fletcher, James (Jim or J.C. as he was better known) became managing director of the Fletcher Construction Co Ltd and its parent, Fletcher Holdings Ltd, after his father was seconded to the War Administration in 1942.

He was 27 and an accountant with the company when he took on the job. He remained managing director when Sir James returned from government service in 1944 and with his father expanded Fletcher Holdings into one of the country's larger public companies. Notable among his achievements was the forestry joint venture with the National Government in the 1950s to build the Tasman Pulp & Paper Co Ltd mill at Kawerau.

Jim remained managing director of Fletcher Holdings until 1979 and chairman until 1981. He made the family business truly international when he brought Fletcher Holdings, Tasman Pulp & Paper Co and Challenge Corporation Ltd together in 1981 to form New Zealand's largest company, Fletcher Challenge Ltd. Jim was knighted in 1980.

Sir James Muir Cameron Fletcher

Sir James Muir Cameron Fletcher.

© The University of Auckland Business School