Our Story

90 years of building our craftsmanship

When John L. Wells set out to sell fishing tackle in 1933, he could never have known that his ambition and passion would permeate through three generations; each refining their craft, and passing the torch to the next to build upon. 

We're proud of our heritage and to still be operating as a family-led business. Though it is not just our leadership that has passed the torch from generation to generation, but our staff as well. 

The same can-do, competitive spirit that fueled John L. Wells 90 years ago now lives on, stronger than ever, in the team of 60 currently paving the way for the next 90 years. 


90 Years of composite excellence

1933 — It Starts
Our founder, John. L Wells was an Englishman in New Zealand with a passion for fly fishing. Kilwell started out as a fishing tackle supplier in Auckland, known as "Kelly's" before John moved the company to Rotorua. With excellent fishing in the region, Rotorua was the perfect place to design, test, and, eventually, start making fishing tackle.
The 30's & 40's - The Kilwell Name
The Kilwell brand started life with 4 L's; John's vision was for fishing gear that "Killed fish well" but even back then the name was considered a bit politically incorrect. In 1949, the company sold off the retailing arm and began to focus solely as an importer and wholesaler, locally referred to as "The Kelly Gang".
The 1950's - Production Begins
No longer content to just import and distribute fishing tackle, Kilwell began moving into manufacturing; innovating around the local conditions and designing fishing lures that still dominate the local fishing scene to this day.
The 1960's - Father and Sons
In the 1960's, the second generation of the Wells family began shaping its path when John's Sons Jeremy and John Jr. joined the family business. Jeremy was sent to the USA to learn to craft composites into fishing rods. John Jr. kept his feet on Kiwi soil, focussing the sporting wholesale side of the business.
The 70's - 80's - Specialisation
Once Jeremy brought the knowledge and equipment for composite manufacturing to Rotorua, the two arms of the business began to really gain traction. Kilwell Sports; wholesaling "tools to maximise playtime" and Kilwell Fibretube; the composite manufacturing muscle behind Kilwell fishing rods. In the late 80's, John Wells Jr. departed the business.
The 90's - An Emerging Powerhouse
In the sole ownership of The Jeremy Wells family, and with a growing reputation for producing world-class composite solutions, Kilwell Fibretube expands operations. No longer solely producing fishing rods, Kilwell moves to a new dedicated facility to start servicing prestigious international clients.
The 2000's - 3rd Generation and Growing
Jeremy's Son and Daughter, Geoff and Amanda, enter the business. Kilwell Sports continues to solidify its position in the New Zealand market, while the Kilwell Fibretube facility continues expanding its footprint and capability.
The 2010's - The Torch is Passed
By 2018 Jeremy Wells had earned a break. After 50+ years of service to Kilwell, Jeremy stepped down to pass the torch on to Amanda and Geoff. Planning ahead for the next 50 years Amanda and Geoff start building the team and capabilities to take Kilwell to its next level of composite innovation, from a production site now spanning 45,000 square feet.
3D Printing The Hemo Sculpture
When local Maori artist, Stacey Gordine, set out to design a 12m / 40ft high sculpture representing "the eternal flame" - Te Ahi Tupua - no one expected it to be 3D printed and carbon fibre wrapped. A huge investment in 3D-printing technology, a design that tested the team to their absolute limits, and a huge change of scope halfway through construction, could not stop Kilwell from delivering this landmark carbon fibre project.
Aerospace Ready
Supported by a deep collaboration with Airship designer's LTA Research, Kilwell introduces new technology for FFA traceability & compliance including temperature-controlled preparation rooms and cure-condition feeds to ensure componentry can be uniquely identified and the parameters of its production instantly validated.
The Next Evolution: Kilwell Fibrelab
With decades of experience in complex composite fabrication in addition to its core competence of roll-wrapped carbon fibre tube production, the time was right for the Kilwell name to reflect the next phase of its journey. Kilwell Fibrelab becomes the masthead for a future of sustained growth through partnering with ambitious clients to continuously push the boundaries of what is possible with composites.

Our Journey

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ISO 9001 Accreditation

The ISO 9001 family of quality management systems is a set of standards that helps organisations ensure they meet customers and other stakeholder needs within statutory and regulatory requirements related to a product or service. Kilwell Fibretube received its Accreditation in February 2020. View our Certificate.

If your competitive edge comes from composites, we hear your call.