Posted on Jul 29, 2022
We may well have another world-beating technology in Lower Hutt thanks to our very own Joe Tomlinson and son.  Joe started his painting business in Lower Hutt in the 1960s, shortly after arriving from Scotland.  He built it up very successfully and it grew and still continues to grow under his old second-in-command after his retirement.
His son, Ray, started life as a painter but moved on to the associated work of water blasting.  (The author remembers a young, intrepid water blaster clambering up a cliff where others feared to tread alongside his property).  After a stint working with Dulux, another Lower Hutt success story, Ray went back to painting but then started his own water blasting firm.  With hard work and good organisation he grew his firm and moved into large-scale water blasting, now with North Island-wide contracts for Progressive Enterprises supermarkets, The Warehouse, Bunnings, Westfield, Wellington Airport and more.
With sustainability and ecology in mind Ray concentrates on efficiently cleaning the paint, good waste-water management and reducing water consumption.  Through promotional films he showed how nowadays his firm aims to avoid using drinking quality water, to finding ways to avoid the use of water altogether, and to  minimising the carbon footprint by using electric pumps rather than the normal Honda portable motors.
After a spell of hospital and convalescence from a severe traffic accident while cycling, Ray came up with a new idea using "Summit Water Blasting Technology".  Aided by Callaghan Innovation and with Melbar Engineering his firm of that name uses rolling brushes (as in a car wash) and a robotic machine.  The machine uses electricity not petrol and does the work of eleven abseilers for half the price.  There is an American equivalent but that weighs half a ton while Ray's weighs 150kg and is far cheaper and far more efficient.  It can clean any basically flat surface up to fifty storeys high. Ray now faces the daunting but enviable problem of how to scale up, and just how far to go.