NZ Tube Mills was originally established to manufacture exhaust systems for New Zealand’s once bustling automotive industry. Ford and Holden were major customers back at a time when new cars were built by New Zealanders and bought by New Zealanders.
When the Government allowed car imports from Japan, New Zealand’s car assembly plants slowly disappeared, In the late 1990s, the once booming NZ Tube Mills went from its heyday of 370 staff to just 40.
As one door closes, another had to open if NZ Tube Mills was to survive. The company continued manufacturing high quality steel products, shifting its focus from the automotive industry to the blossoming horticultural market.
Change was Key to Success
Pivotal to NZ Tube Mills revitalised success was a challenge from one of its horticultural customers, the owner of a large orchard in Australia. The request was for a trellis system which could be retrofitted to operate under their existing shade netting. The trellis systems available at the time were too expensive and required too much work. The customer required something new and invited NZ Tube Mills to deliver.
NZ Tube Mills considered the request, developing the part required. They were most of the way there but needed improvements to the design, which required many separate welded parts. They approached Mark at Myriad Engineering, knowing he had the equipment (the Robot Welder) and the collaborative attitude required to achieve the desired end result.
True to form, the Robot Welder provided the required accurate consistency of product, along with a steady speed of output. This resulted in a cost-effective solution which was passed on to the end customer. The feedback was impressive. With this new innovation, the orchard owner now had the means to do the work instead of having to use other people and employ specialised equipment.
The orchard owner reported back they were saving in excess of $80,000 per hectare.
NZ Tube Mills Now Playing on The World Stage
Today, along with stainless steel and carbon steel tube products, NZ Tube Mills produces an extensive range of trellising products for the horticultural industry. They are the leading manufacturer of carbon steel precision tube and stainless tube for New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific Islands. Their development of the ECO TRELLIS® and ECO V® brands have revolutionised vineyards and orchards.
NZ Tube Mills was the recent winner of the Supreme Award and Global Gold Award at the Wellington Business Excellence Awards 2019.
“Working with Mark is seamless and easy. He knows our business and our capabilities. It’s a very amicable relationship and very much collaborative.”
~ Terry Carter, General Manager of NZ Tube Mills
Capitalising on each company’s strengths, the end product is the ECO-V® which improves yields and the picking process. It has been so successful there has been huge recent growth across the US and Australian horticulture markets, with the ECO-V® leading the way in steel tubing for orchards around the world.
“The initial approach, from NZ Tube Mills on the ECO V®, was to see if we could do some robot welding for part of a product they had developed. They wanted to improve the design, which required a lot of welded parts,” said Mark Wilson, Myriad Engineering.
“After some discussion and pricing we did the first samples. Since then we have done multiple variations of the parts and are continuing to talk about design to improve the consistency of our welding process as well as reducing cost.
“Working alongside New Zealand exporters and manufacturers like NZ Tube Mills, and forging strong relationships with them makes good business sense to us. We have worked with this team for many years and this is exactly the type of relationship we enjoy with fellow manufacturers. We streamline the process for NZ Tube Mills as much as possible, working in with their own processes. We pick up the raw material, weld it and drop it off at the galvanisers. We then follow up with a dispatch note to NZ Tube Mills so they can pick up the product directly from the galvanisers. This makes the whole process faster and easier for them, resulting in quicker turnaround times.”
In the Client’s Words
Terry Carter, NZ Tube Mills General Manager adds, “There are always demands for production to run on time. For growers there is a certain window of time. We work with Mark to see how we can speed up production and manufacturing. He’s receptive to that and we appreciate it.
“Mark is an honest operator and collaboratively we come up with solutions that work for both parties. We did a bit of work to help him help us. As opposed to a typical supplier-client relationship where we ‘just need this and sort it out for us.’ That’s testament to Mark’s ability to build a long term relationship as opposed to just doing a job. He’ll put in the effort to establish a good working relationship for the long term.”