By SHELLEY TOPP
A new Sutton Tools factory will be built in Rangiora following the demise of the Kaiapoi factory which was badly damaged by fire in January.
Demolition of the old factory building is almost completed, but the new factory will rise on 13.8 hectares of land on the corner of Todds and Fernside roads in Rangiora, says Sutton Tools (NZ) general manager Kevin Donovan.
“The Kaiapoi site is now surrounded by more and more residential property and is no longer ideal for large scale industrial manufacturing,” he says.
“We are really excited about the new site.”
The demolition of the old building and waste removal from the site had been a complicated process due to asbestos issues with the old roof.
“We are aware that the demolition process has been noisey and disruptive for neighbours and we thank them for their patience.
The Waimakariri District Council and staff have also been very supportive,” he says.
“We have made changes to some remaining buildings in preparation for limited manufacturing on the current site as we complete machine building projects.
“This should start in May/June.”
It is expected to take 12-18 months to build the new factory with similar time frames likely for new machines, purchased from overseas, to be delivered to the new factory.
Fifty staff have been made redundant.
“Many found jobs very quickly, some have chosen to take a break for a while and others retired. We were inundated with job offers/opportunities from local employers and agencies,” Kevin said.
“Seventeen staff have taken temporary roles at our factories in Australia, and others have been redeployed to help our engineering team in Kaiapoi. We have tried to retain as much specialised skill and experience as we can, however with the reduced income we have had to make some difficult choices.”
Fire investigators have been unable to identify what caused the January 30 fire.
“This is disappointing as we would like to know what caused it,” Kevin said.
Waimakariri Mayor Dan Gordon says its great to hear Sutton Tools has found a new home in Waimakariri.
“This will be a loss to Kaiapoi but it’s great this business that’s such an institution in the District is here to stay.”
He says he, deputy Mayor Neville Atkinson and council staff, have been working with the company since the fire to help them re-establish.
“We’re committed to continuing to help Sutton Tools as they move up the road to Southbrook in Rangiora.”