Back in driving seat at long last

Wellington racing car seat maker Racetech officially opened its new factory last night as it continues "heading in the right direction" a year after its Petone plant was destroyed by fire.

The company moved to the new Seaview premises in June but held its grand reopening yesterday, with speeches from managing director David Black and Kiwi motorsport legend Greg Murphy.

Black, a former rally champion himself who bought Racetech in 1998, said production was back to full capacity after its new factory opened.

"We're settling in, but heading in the right direction."

As part of the new factory, Racetech had bought new machinery and installed a new robot which significantly reduced production times.

This would help quadruple production, he said, as Racetech looked to supply a new distribution facility in the United Kingdom. A new cutting machine would also reduce waste by about 30 per cent on raw materials such as fabric and fibreglass.

The robot, which trimmed the seats, had taken a job which was "nasty for a human being to do", and took about two hours, and reduced it to an eight-minute process.

Guests at last night's event toured the factory and saw the new machinery in action.

The company's seats retail from about $500 to one at $11,000.

Racetech's official reopening marked a year after the fire which destroyed the old factory.

Fireman Troy Mahupuku was badly burned on the day.

Black said it had been a "hellishly tough time" for staff, who had done remarkably well in the circumstances.

"The fact that it's taken 12 months of our growth . . . it actually stopped a lot of our development, we had plans to develop seats a year ago, new products and things like that."

The Dominion Post