The Lee Brothers Story
The story of Lee Brothers Cabinets and Joinery as it is today started back in 1926, with Alfred Lee. “Lee Bros Ltd” began life on Lake Road in the Lee family grocery store and flats. It soon expanded into a hardware store on Fenton Street that same year. Not much more time had passed before the Lee Bros Moulding and Joinery factory was built next to the existing family business on Lake Road.
At that time, Lee Bros was predominantly a building company. They won many contracts to build bridges and houses around Rotorua, Reporoa, Tokoroa, and Atiamuri. In fact, during some recent renovations, a local builder brought us in a piece of gib from a bathroom that was built and signed by Lee Bros during that time. This was an exciting find for us to see a piece of the Lee Brothers history in real life.
In 1943, Lee Bros began operating a sawmill and pumice pit on leased Māori land known as Tutukau Trust. The sawmill operated until circa 1955 and provided a source of native timber.
Alfred and his brothers Walter and Fred began building a new general store in central Rotorua in 1957. This would later become a department store, and house the new Lee Bros headquarters. The building was on the corner of Tutanekai and Eruera Streets, and still stands today.
The Lake Road location continued to house the main manufacturing plant for Lee Bros Joinery right up until the firm was sold to a large national company in 1986.
All photos from this section are taken from The Lee Family History, compiled by Rebecca Anne Allan (nee Lee).
A Fresh Start
After the buyout, some of the team from the original Lee Brothers firm decided to bring the company back to its core purpose. They moved into a new warehouse location, where we are still situated today, on View Road. Paul, one of our current directors, got his start here sweeping the floors as a young man. Since then the business has gone from strength to strength, with a reputation for high quality work in the wider Bay of Plenty area, backed up by the many awards we’ve won over the years.
Some of the machinery from the original 1926 beginnings is still in use in our workshop, including the mortice and tenoner machines and the radial arm saw. Nearly one hundred years later and still going strong – just like us!