Archiving NZ Trucking History Media
Dave Carden was born on the 13th of September, 1930 in Paeroa in Waikato. From an early age Dave was fascinated with mechanics. He tinkered about constructing things, which would begin a habit of a lifetime. At the age of 17, Dave began a Fitter Turner apprenticeship with A & G Price. One skill wasn’t enough for Dave so gained a rare apprentice transfer into precision welding at Putaruru Engineering. When Dave gained his registration as a Fitter Turner/Welder he began working offshore as a Marine Engineer before returning home to become a Fitter Turner at Wilcox Engineering in Putaruru. He then changed direction again to become a petrol and diesel mechanic for Heavan Motors in Arapuni.
In 1958 at the age of 28, a widely experienced Dave founded his own company: Southside Motor Engineering. Acquiring machinery for the business was essential yet costly, so Dave used his Kiwi ingenuity to make his own equipment. It wasn’t long before Dave was famous for his inventiveness and engineering ability, which helped him become the Workshop Manager in 1967 for the newly formed Jack Tidd Ross Todd Ltd, today known as TRT. It was the perfect fit for inventive Dave.
After the passing of Jack Tidd in 1975, Dave and his wife Jenny Carden purchased his shares, giving them a bit of a say in the industry.
During the 1982 New Zealand Crane Conference Dave signed what has become known as ‘the Game Changer’. Dave relinquished his company’s right to the Import Duty Protection License on a paper napkin. The License, while protecting local jobs, effectively let Dave and the other directors set the market price which didn’t make them many friends. Dave’s generous action allowed the New Zealand crane industry to import cheaper cranes from overseas but as a consequence Tidd Crane Carrier production number 207 was the last carrier built in their workshop.
In 1987, Norm Todd sold his remaining sharehold to the Carden family, meaning they owned the entire company. It went from strength to strength as Dave and the team focused on ingenuity and engineering. In the late 1990s, the renamed Tidd Ross Todd (TRT) moved into Australia and built a new mechanical service facility in Maui Street, Hamilton. After all this growth Dave Carden stepped back from his role as Managing Director but remained on as a Director on the Board where he could continue to see the company thrive.
Outside business, Dave has volunteered for the local Lions Club and was a member of the Board for the St Paul’s Collegiate in Hamilton. Dave, always using his Kiwi ingenuity, is presently involved in designing and constructing a radio communications mast to improve safety on Mount Maungatautari, a wildlife sanctuary located near their hometown in the Waikato.
2017 marks 50 years for TRT and 30 years with Dave and his family at the helm. He certainly has been in this industry for the long haul.