Fence firm doubles capacity, extends factory
Tim Austin of Warner Fences says the most valuable mentoring experiences he has had were when he talked about things with industry counterparts in Australia.
"It's difficult to have open discussions with your closest rivals in this country but when I went to Australia I was able to share a lot more and the guys I met there were too."
When Tim and wife Mandy bought the company eight years ago it used external contractors to manufacture its fence and gate products and sold them through a network of retail franchises.
They bought a building and established their own factory, drawing on Tim's previous experience as chief executive of Versatile Buildings in Australia.
Tim said commitment to innovation was the key to success.
"We're constantly working on new products such as weatherboard-style gates made from aluminium, and tongue and groove gates made from aluminium which we powder coat from a range of colour choices. Another example is our new Warner Wall which we've developed over the past 12 months.
"It's made of an aluminium skin over a honeycomb inner so it's very light but also strong. It's similar to the technology used on Scott Dixon's racing car which protected him during his recent crash in the United States. When the wall is powder coated with a textured finish it looks similar to a concrete wall, but about half the price."
He wanted to create an efficient high-quality manufacturing facility but one that also offered a service as well as a product, with the ability to produce custom-made fences and gates.
"People want choices in heights, widths, styles or colours. In England, you get terraced houses which all look the same with a front garden that looks the same and a fence that looks the same as the one next door.
"New Zealanders don't necessarily want that, and that's our difference. We can make a huge variety of walls, fence and gate designs, and now we have an app that allows our salespeople to show customers what the design will look like on their property."
Sales have doubled in the past three years and so has the factory. The Austins officially opened the extension to their Hornby factory last week.
Over seven years turnover has increased three-fold and the Austins are aiming for turnover to be three times what it is now within the next eight to 10 years.
They imported from Australia a new 125 metre automated powder coating conveyor system, custom-designed for powder coating fences and gates.
It is the only one of its type in the South Island and Warners is the only fencing manufacturer in New Zealand using this system.
Warner Fences has branches in other centres operating under a franchise system.