“Sir Robert Stewart may have been born into a successful manufacturing family, but he had to set up his own company the hard way, using his own money, courage, street smarts and creativity”, from Determined to Win.
The year 2014 was a year of milestones for SKOPE founder Sir Robert Stewart, who was made a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit to manufacturing and the community. Earlier in the year, Sir Robert struck another goal off his “bucket list”, when he launched his autobiography, Determined to Win, published by Random House.
Sir Robert’s account of starting SKOPE, manufacturing, exporting and holding on to the family business is a lively memoir in which he shares insights into being successful in one of the most challenging business environments. It tells the story of a man who, over five decades, led the business through economic ups and downs, tough times and highlights, to become one of New Zealand’s leading manufacturers and exporters.
A dedicated husband, father and grandfather, between times spent in the office, on the factory floor and building partnerships and reputation offshore, Sir Robert has led a fulfilling life outside of SKOPE – racing cars and building yachts and enjoying his recreational pursuits with his wider family and friends. Along the way, he has started a radio station, helped drive the 1974 Commonwealth Games, become president of the Canterbury Medical Research Foundation, and chair of the Canterbury Manufacturer’s Association and the government’s Health Research Council. He has also been honoured as an Ernst & Young Master Entrepreneur.
“I’ve enjoyed reading the history of Dad’s professional career, it’s half a James Bond story and half a business text book. I more fully appreciate the difficult barriers to market he encountered and appreciate now how complex entrepreneurism was in his day,” says daughter Alexandra Stewart.
An entrepreneur who has never been afraid to think outside the square, Sir Robert left school at 15 to take up an apprentice electrician role with the Government, going on to work at Christchurch Airport and at Paparua prison. His passion later took him to England, where he studied engineering at Cranfield College. On his return to New Zealand, Sir Robert worked for his father’s company, PDL Industries, for five years.
At 25, Sir Robert purchased Christchurch-based Robat Avon Industries, which he rebranded to SKOPE Enterprises. It was from here that he went on to build the country’s leading heating company, expanding the business to include commercial refrigeration products and building an international export market.
Having exited the heating market, today SKOPE Industries is a global player in the commercial refrigeration market. Two of Sir Robert’s children, Guy and Alexandra, share their father’s drive and passion for the family business and have taken over the helm of SKOPE, which now employs more than 300 people and has a far-reaching global presence. Sir Robert remains an active member of the company’s Board and is thrilled to have his book hit the shelves.
To purchase a copy of Determined To Win call SKOPE on NZ 0800 947 5673 or AU 1800 121 535, and speak with Charmaine Brown.
Imprint: Random House NZ
Extent: 372 pages