It’s 2016. A young-ish man – John Ryan, a stainless steel fabricator – is renting a house in Arrowtown. The cost of rent is increasing by the month and he can’t get excited about taking on a 30-year mortgage. So, he buys a old school bus to convert into his new home.
About six months into the project, John needs a woodburner. He likes lots of things about lots of different models on the market – big and small – so decides to combine them into one small unit and build it himself. Once underway, John adds design features of his own – the large viewing window, robust door hinges and external door latch, the raw natural steel finish and exposed welds, and (everyone’s favourite) a hand-spun door knob.
Ok, so the first Meg wasn’t perfect (it went out as soon as he’d close the door), but with many baffle, air-intake and flue-size alterations, the fire started “roaring”. Thus the name, Roaring Meg. It’s about this time that John runs out of money. So he takes a photo of his Roaring Meg and pops it on Trade Me. He sells three in the first week.
That was 200 Megs ago. Yes, John’s own bus is now long finished – and very comfortably warmed by one of the original Roaring Megs.
Life before Meg
Out of school, John spent five years making stainless components for Princess of Fairline Yachts. He then completed four years’ full-time training in sheet metal welding and fabrication, before landing a job as a pharmaceutical engineer. Over the next six years, he made precision process machinery for industries including pharmaceutical, food and cosmetics.
Then it was time to travel. And here he is – settled in Cromwell, in his bus, which he shares with his completely useless apprentice Milo the dog.
John’s skill as a stainless steel fabricator means he is also in high demand for other work. Alongside the Roaring Meg business, he operates Pure Stainless, which custom makes stainless components for a range of clients. These include benchtop manufacturers, furniture makers, breweries and winery's.