We’re saddened to hear of former Steel & Tube CEO Nick Calavrias’ tragic passing in Taupo on Saturday 7 January, and would like to send our thoughts to family, friends and work colleagues during this time.

Aged 67, Nick’s career was paved with success, and as an officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit and holder of the Keith Smith Memorial Award for Distinguished Service to New Zealand’s metal engineering industry, we’d like to acknowledge the contributions he’s made to our industry over his 42 years of service.

Leader in industry and business

New Zealand metals industry leaders have described Nick as “a giant in New Zealand steel”, a man of passion, a keen negotiator with strategic insight and “compassion for fellow human beings”.

This certainly was demonstrated with him and his business partners founding the steel firm Acorn Pacific in 1976 – which went on to employ 100 staff over its fourteen years of operation, before eventually being bought out by HERA member Steel & Tube, of which Nick subsequently took over as Chief Executive the following year.

Becoming an officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the New Year honours for services to business in 2010, it was acknowledged he “contributed to keeping thousands of New Zealanders employed by sourcing locally made products over cheaper international alternatives” – an accomplishment that speaks strongly to his dedication for our industry and the people in it.

Nick was also former Vice-Chairman of the New Zealand Business Round Table, an accredited member of the Institute of Directors, a fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Management and a delegate to the annual Australia-New Zealand Leadership Forum since its inception in 2004.

Leader in safety culture and community

During his 18 years at Steel & Tube, Nick had a determination to push through a culture of safety that protected those operating in what can be a dangerous industry – successfully reducing the company’s accident rate of 90 injuries a year in 1996 to zero by 2009 – to create what he said to be “a culture that put people’s well-being ahead of profits.”

Nick was also a leader of Wellington’s Greek community, organising reunions for those displaced in 1951 to New Zealand – no doubt inspired by his own experiences of his family fleeing Greece during this time.

HERA award winner

We were proud to present Nick with the prestigious Keith Smith Memorial Award for Distinguished Service in 2011 in recognition of his countless contributions to the New Zealand metals industry, and earlier to work with him in his capacity as a HERA Executive member from 2001 to 2003.

His passion and voice in steering our industry forward will certainly be missed.