Feilding Herald : January 19th 2012
33 THURSDAY, JANUARY 19, 2012 BUSINESS Enrolments now being taken for 2012 Ballet * Jazz * Contemporary * Hip Hop * Tap * Dancing Dots (3-4yrs Old) * Classes in Feilding & Marton Open Day Wednesday 1st February 2012 4pm-6.30pm @ Dance Unlimited Studio 89 Fergusson Street Feilding Contact: Carmen Davidson 027 4741731 or enrol online www.danceunlimited.co.nz 4313641AA Company now booming after 'a very bad year' In charge: Fibreglass Development's managing director Steve Bond. On the road: Examples of completed car mouldings. Hold all: Fibreglass technician James Mare ´ discusses work on the cargo hold for a plane with Steve Bond . Photos: LAURA WALTERS On the up: Fibreglass Developments managing director Steve Bond hopes work will come out of the Christchurch rebuild, and his light-weight chimneys will have a part to play. By LAURA WALTERS Feilding composites business Fibreglass Developments is alive and well after fighting back from the market crash that left them battling to save their busi- ness. Fibreglass Developments manag- ing director Steve Bond said it was a gut wrenching time but the com- pany managed to stay afloat and their prospects for the new year were looking good. We were very, very close to shut- ting down completely, he said. We kept above water. Just above. Now the company employs more than 40 people. It was looking at expansion to other parts of the country and a possible multi-million dollar contract with an Australian Rail company. We could be going from one extreme to another, Mr Bond said. The company, which started in Bunnythorpe in 1978 and moved to its current site on Mahinui St in Feilding in 2000, now produces fibreglass products for planes, trains, automobiles and buildings. Some of their most noted work included the pillars on the refurbished Wellington Town Hall, the front panels of Kircaldie & Stains in Wellington and, of course, Feilding s clock tower. To recreate the pillars on Welling- ton s Town Hall, moulds were made from a photo of the original columns and replicas were produced from light-weight composite fibre. The lightness of the fibreglass would come in handy during the Christchurch rebuild, Mr Bond said. There were 40,000 claims in Christchurch and 15,000 involved chimneys. The company had developed a look-a-like chimney made out of fibreglass which would help keep the city s traditional look without the danger of brick chimneys. People would prefer to be hit by fibreglass than a big old panel, Mr Bond said. He predicted a lot of jobs would come from the Christchurch rebuild. We certainly hope business will come in. Surprisingly, the owner and director, who had been with the company since 1982, did not train in the fibreglass industry. Mr Bond studied agricultural sci- ence at university. He was building rally cars when the former director of the company asked him to stay. He took over as director one year later. In keeping with Mr Bond s enthusiasm for cars, Fibreglass Developments was working on the bodies for the V8SuperCars. These would debut in New Zea- land next month. While Mr Bond planned to leave the company at some point, he would need to put a proper exit strategy in place before that day came, he said. A lot of people depend on me at the moment. But for now he was concentrating on the company s major projects for 2012. And if the company snagged the Australian rail contract it would be a bit of payback for New Zealand s attitude towards local manufacturers, Mr Bond said. New Zealand really shuns Kiwi manufacturers. Mr Bond said one of his aims was to collaborate with smaller com- panies around New Zealand which would add to overall resources and man-power. We will probably be expanding, he said. The company s sheer size and capacity would allow them to sur- vive in a broad range of markets. However, the amount New Zea- landers wanted produced for less meant Fibreglass Developments could not go in alone. People want more, and they want to do less, Mr Bond said. New Zealand s productivity is terrible. They were considering opening a site in Hamilton but overall the Feilding spot was a good central location for the business. We want the company to con- tinue. Mr Bond said the company s brush with death taught them a few things. The administrative side of things and the company s record-keeping became much better after they had to cut back 30 people, some of whom took their ideas with them. Fibreglass Developments now prided itself on efficient adminis- tration, problem-solving and diver- sity. People come to us with an issue and we come up with an answer, he said. It was this Kiwi can-do attitude that saw the company expand beyond New Zealand s shores to Bangladesh, Australia, and as far as Trinidad and Tobago. Fibreglass Developments was spreading its wings into the aerospace industry. They started building engine cowls and cargo pit for planes but the market was very scary because of the tight regulations, Mr Bond said. In order to survive it was import- ant not to get complacent, or they would get swallowed up . We just can t survive doing what we have been doing. The company did not have to fight for jobs. Even though fibreglass was an expensive product to work with, clients got value for money and a job well done. Mr Bond said he was looking for- ward to seeing what came of things early this year. I m reasonably optimistic at this stage, he said. We are not about to fail.
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