Trucks on way for Canty rebuild

Allied Concrete is investing $15 million in 30 new concrete trucks as it ramps up for the Canterbury rebuild.

It's the second time in a year that the company has gone up a gear to handle extra demand for concrete created by the post-quake rebuild.

Allied Concrete general manager Bob Officer has relocated from Dunedin to Christchurch this year, because "Christchurch is going to be the centre of gravity for construction in New Zealand."

This time last year Allied Concrete bought 27 new trucks and brought another 10 to Christchurch from its operations in other centres.

At that time the company had been struggling to find the additional drivers it needed. It ended up using staff from its other sites around the country who would come for a week or two at a time to help out.

Officer said the company has used driver trainers to train up enough staff and already has a pool of drivers it has promised to hire once the new trucks arrived.

The first of the 30 new Mack and Hino vehicles is due to arrive today, with a new truck arriving at the rate of one a week until all 30 have been delivered.

By the middle of the year it will have about 105 to 110 trucks in Christchurch.

The Invercargill-based Richardson family, who own Allied Concrete, were committed to the concrete industry and were happy to invest further, Officer said.

Once the trucks were fully utilised the return on investment would come.

Officer would not disclose revenue levels but said it was substantially better than previous years although still slower than 2007 because it had a slightly slower start last year. November was the company's biggest ever single month in Christchurch. In that month the company sold more concrete in the city than it sold in Dunedin in the whole of 2012.

Allied Concrete and Ashby's Concrete McLeans Island Rd plant, Sockburn and Rangiora combined could produce about 400 cubic metres of concrete per hour which would require 130 trucks.

But travel time was longer, so more trucks were needed.

"So we're probably 70 per cent of theoretical trucking fleet."

The company's budget for 2013 is 15 per cent larger than last year's.

"We are trying to gear up to make sure we maintain our market position so we keep investing.

"We want to make sure we continue to be the biggest and we do that by continuing to invest."

Challenges include rising fuel, labour and material costs as well as increased time travelling and higher repair and maintenance costs because of the state of the city's roads, Officer said.

The company had, together with other large companies involved in the rebuild, gone overseas to Britain, Ireland and the Philippines to talk to potential employees, but so far it had been able to fill all its positions with New Zealand residents, and that was partly because of it using driver trainers, Officer said.