Going Round in Circles - A Good Business
“There are springs everywhere, in everything” says Merv Lovesy of Simply Springs
A few weeks back Les Grierson of Napier got the spring back in his step. Not to mention his armchair and his golf cart.
From the advice of a mate, he discovered what he described as a true hidden gem, and a business based around keeping things working and running in a society that had become more used to throwing something broken out and replacing it.
"In these difficult times it’s nice to know we can repair still instead of throwing it away."
Mr Grierson had been put onto a small but unique little business, tucked away in a garage unit down Orchard Rd way in Hastings, called Simply Springs.
The name of the business, which has been run by Merv and Pauline Lovesy since last October, sums it up.
You step in and to your left there are shelves containing boxes and boxes of springs. Look to your right and there are more cabinets and more carefully-labelled boxes of springs. Look straight ahead and you'll spot Merv working away on one of the remarkable spring-making machines which he says "are older than me".
His customer Mr Grierson had a fairly standard request. A spring had given way in his favourite lounge chair. He'd taken it in, Merv made some measurements and checked everything thoroughly then set to and made an identical replacement.
Mr Grierson then mentioned he needed a new spring for his golf cart. More measurements, more calculations, and Merv built one from scratch. "With the array of springs on offer I was like a kid in a sweet shop," Mr Grierson said later.
"There are springs everywhere, in everything" Merv said.
I had to agree, clicking the tip of the pen I was using. And in the car I was driving there would have been, well, a lot.
A while back he had a customer come in asking if he could sort out a spring for his Jack-in-the-Box. No problem. Another chap was looking for a couple of little torsion springs for his extremely rare accordion. Again, no problem. He whipped a couple up.
Sewing machine springs, springs for gates. Even some springs for a 1950’s Porsche.
The point of difference for his business is that he will happily make 100 or more springs or just the one. "We do one-offs, and it's all done by hand."
With a smile he said he liked a challenge “Oh yes, I’ll have a go at anything."
He relishes and cherishes the opportunity to create a spring that will keep something working for many more good years.
His late father was an electrician and lived by the philosophy that nothing should be thrown out if it were able to be repaired somehow.
"Nothing ever got thrown out in our house......everything was held together by sticky tape. He was of an age when you saved and looked after things."
Mr Lovesy trained as a mechanic and then as a builder, and worked in with the business' previous owner Noel McMillan through the years.
When Mr. McMillan decided to retire from the business Merv Lovesy and his wife Pauline talked about taking it on. "I said to Pauline, what do you reckon? I thought 'yeah, I’II have a go at that”.
So he does the machining and she does the essential paperwork. The first few months involved a major sorting and inventory job. “We were even here on Christmas Day and half of Boxing Day sorting it all out."
He has built up contacts and customers all over the country. During my short visit to this springtime paradise the phone went twice - one a local and one from Nelson where they were looking to order a small number of unique springs. He's quite happy to hear someone say "I only want one or two".
In the world of the spring there are three types. Compressive, tension and torsion - and the material is the very firmest and strongest high-carbon spring steel.
Spring talk is bewildering to an outsider like me.
There are remarkable size increments of just .1 of a millimetre and more types of coiled steel hung from the busy walls than there are springs in a trampoline factory.
Oh, and he’ll do them too.
Courtesy of Hawke’s Bay Today “Hidden Gems” feature.