Started by James Arnold McCallum and his wife Myrtle in 1927, the now McCallums Group Ltd was originally known as A McCallum Tailor and Drycleaner. Textiles were in the blood with James and Myrtle meeting whilst working together in the tailoring department of Herbert Haynes in Tay Street. Invercargill.
Using a 44-gallon drum cut in half and placed on legs, the drycleaning business began in earnest in 1927; also in Tay Street. By today’s standards, the early days of drycleaning were very rudimentary, clothing was hand washed in petrol, spun in a hand-operated hydro and then hung out to dry. The pressing of garments (and McCallums famed ‘razor-sharp’ trouser creases) was an equally simple but effective process involving a length of board, a damp cloth, a 3-foot piece of railway track and a heavy cast iron hand-iron.
In 1930 this somewhat simple plant was easily moved to an 18x12’ shed in the back yard of the McCallums residence, the first staff member was employed and James was kept busy making and altering suits – McCallum Tailor and Drycleaner was now fully established and busy.
Having purchased a household 'Easy' washing machine with spin dryer, the business had invested smartly in the latest washing technology. Washing clothing in petrol was now out, replaced with white spirits and caustic soda; seen as a far superior chemical combination for drycleaning purposes.
In the early 1940s and with business now growing strongly, a large investment was made in the purchase of a small coal fired boiler and press. The boiler also provided heating during the colder months and was used for making toast and heating morning tea and lunch (not only for McCallums staff but for adjoining businesses also). Another washing machine was added around this time to handle the increased demand.
In 1956 McCallums moved into Dee St where we still operate from today.
Over the years McCallums has ensured they stay abreast of the latest in drycleaning technology and innovation, and continue to upgrade or invest in new equipment (much of it imported from the USA and Europe). McCallums always look to source superior and environmentally friendly chemicals and implement new cleaning process and procedure.
Over many years, amidst opening more drycleaning outlets in Invercargill and also Queenstown, McCallums have further diversified, adding additional textile based products and services to our core offering. And again this has required on-going investment in new machinery and the hiring and training of new staff. Today McCallums Group Ltd provide: embroidery and monogramming, source and brand sports and corporate uniforms, remove, professionally launder and then reinstall curtains in the home and office. McCallums also receive wedding dresses from all over the country requiring repairs, drycleaning and packing into specialised wedding storage boxes.
In 1980 McCallums became one of a handful of Apparelmaster licensees; there are now over 30 locally owned and operated Apparelmaster franchisees nationally. Renting and professionally laundering all manner of workwear, mats and towels, providing and servicing first aid kits and bathroom supplies and even supplying and installing washroom lockers was a natural addition to the McCallums stable of products and services.
In 2006 McCallums purchased Taylors linen hire business which included both the equipment and client base. This was a huge step for McCallums who now rent, supply and service linen for many of the lower south islands major hospitality and accommodation businesses. The next step was to centralise commercial operations under the one roof and in 2008 McCallums purchased a building in Otepuni Ave that was large enough to house all the commercial divisions.
McCallums Group is now under the guidance of Wayne McCallum, James Arnold McCallums grandson. As the business has been passed down through the family, so have the company’s foundation values. At its heart McCallums is a family business, literally and metaphorically speaking, and many of the staff have worked for the company for over 20 years; some are second generation employees.
Although Wayne McCallum is very much a hands-on owner, much of his energy is focused on his true passion and goal, to see McCallums Group become No. 1 in their industry for sustainability and environmentally friendly business practice. His innovative woodchip boiler is an industry first and a true testament to Wayne’s long term goal.
McCallums Group truly adds value because we can be consistently relied on to deliver the right result by working efficiently. Working together we get things done, without fuss – clean and simple.