Johannes (Joe) La Grouw OBE was an architect, engineer, businessman, artist and philanthropist. He developed a patented house manufacturing system constructed of solid wood that became a New Zealand housing icon.
Joe and Johannes Van Loghem, the co-founders of Lockwood Homes, began their company in 1951 by importing prefabricated homes from the Netherlands. They soon realised that New Zealand’s vast timber resources offered unlimited potential for natural wood houses. They designed and built timber houses with interlocking joints which can survive the harshest conditions, including the 1974 Darwin cyclone and the 2011 Christchurch earthquakes.
By the 1980s, Lockwood was one of the country’s biggest home providers. It also exported widely. In 1989, John van Loghem was bought out, giving the La Grouw family total ownership of Lockwood.
Apart from houses, Lockwood buildings include the NZ pavilion at a World Expo, commercial buildings, and a Maori meeting house. Opening the 50-year tribute to Lockwood in 2006, Prime Minister Helen Clark said: ”Lockwood has earned a special place in our history, for its design innovation and for the scale of its business. This company has boosted the local economy, creating jobs and opportunities for other businesses.”
Joe became a Companion of the NZ Order of Merit for services to business and the community. Over many years he gave generously of his time and funds to Rotorua organisations.