Lamson was established in 1908 under the name “The Lamson Despatch Company of New Zealand Limited” This was changed in 1937 to “Lamson Engineering Company (N.Z) Ltd”. In October Lamson became New Zealand owned and the name was changed to Lamson NZ Ltd.
The idea of a “store service system” originated in the United States in 1879. Drapery store owner, William Stickney Lamson, became aware of the time and effort wasted by shop assistants taking customers’ money to cashier and retuning with change. William Lamson realised that there had to be a better way.
Early ideas involved tying cash and bills in a handkerchief and “throwing” it to the cashier which proved to be unsuccessful to a great extent. The end result of his effort was the Ball System, where a hollow ball containing the money rolled on an inclined track from the shop assistants’ counter to the cashier. The cashier also had an inclined track that rolled the change back to the assistants’ counter.
The move across the Atlantic of Lamson’s “Ball System” was instigated by a Mr. John Kelly who obtained the rights in the United Kingdom to Lamson’s invention. In 1885, from a small private hotel in Craven Street, London, the Lamson Consolidated Store Service Company commenced trading. By 1889 hundreds of station “Ball Systems” were operating in the UK.
Another invention called the “Rapid Wire System” was later introduced which automated the “Ball System” to a certain degree. For the next 50 years Lamson’s “Rapid Wire System” or as it was affectionately known, “Flying Fox” would zoom across ceiling spaces of stores throughout Australia and New Zealand. Many a small child lugged along by Mum on a shopping safari, was fascinated by these “Flying Foxes”.
Lamson systems have been part of the changing pace of New Zealand business for 100 years. They have been an integral part of the nation’s retail, hospitals, and other commercial sectors. Thousands of Lamson systems were installed throughout New Zealand and Australia, some original systems like the National Library in Canberra installed in 1968 still work today. Also a working system can be seen at the Cambridge museum. With modern technology, many would have thought that the Lamson tube would be a thing of the past, but with concerns over the safe movement of cash within stores and businesses looking to operate more efficiently, Lamson Pneumatic tube are now as popular as ever.
In the mid 1990’s Lamson diversified into small parts storage and now offers New Zealand’s most popular range of van shelving for commercial vehicles. This started off with a range of bin moulds and a few simple ideas and has been developed into a sturdy and trusted brand.