Manufacturer wired to compete

UP WITH THE PLAY: Wire Displays owner Mark Corrigan is moving from hands-on to computerised wire production to compete with the Chinese import market.
UP WITH THE PLAY: Wire Displays owner Mark Corrigan is moving from hands-on to computerised wire production to compete with the Chinese import market.

Mark Corrigan followed in the footsteps of his Scottish forebears when he established a wire manufacturing business in Kapiti but went on to develop and expand it to compete with the huge Chinese import market.

Corrigan's father and uncle worked in wire manufacturing in Glasgow before emigrating and working in the industry in New Zealand.

With a background in engineering and welding, Corrigan had a brief stint working as a fitter and welder on fishing boats in Wellington before deciding to carry on the family tradition and launched Wire Displays in Paraparaumu in 1984.

"It was a taught trade down through my Dad," he said.

The industry had changed a lot since the early days when his father and uncle worked in Scotland.

"Plastic products were not about then, so wire was pretty big. There were no microwave ovens or plastic milk crates. There were wire chip baskets, milk crates and newspaper display stands."

When he first established Wire Displays he manufactured canopy wires for prams, then pushchairs and baby buggies for a Waikanae company.

His first big contract was to provide forecourt point-of-sale stands for Caltex nationwide, which led to becoming involved in signage for the company.

Stand manufacturing expanded to other companies nationwide during the late 1980s and early 1990s.

"Some of my old trolleys and stands are still being used but the industry has changed a lot since then," he said.

He was now heavily involved with shop-fitting products, supplying a wide range of wire and tube products, including baskets, display and brochure stands, shelving, trolleys, guards, grills, cages and mesh panelling. "A large part of the company has moved from manual work to computerised manufacturing rather than using hands-on equipment."

The late 1990s and early 2000s signalled a major turning point when he started investing in computerised machinery to compete with China.

"The turnaround was quicker. We could manufacture more complex products at a better rate for our customers," he said.

Starting off with one staff member, he now has 12.

"We took a little bit of a hit in the recession but managed to climb out of it. We are now quite stable in the market."

His latest move will be a major investment in a German mesh manufacturing machine due to arrive soon.

The company has been involved with products for the Rugby World Cup and the Wearable Art Awards as well as several other similar events.

Most of his export business involves supplying components for products exported by other companies.

Manufacturing over 100 tonnes of wire products a year, there had been steady growth over the past 20 years and this year's investment in new machinery would streamline production and hopefully boost growth by 50 per cent over the next five years.

Wire Display had reinvested more than $1 million back into the company to date to stay competitive in the market, he said.

"We are trying to be competitive in turnaround and still hammer home buy New Zealand made. We are trying to speed up local manufacture so we can be competitive with imports coming into the market," he said.

"We are hoping the new machinery will open some new doors for us in the near future, enabling us to supply specialty mesh to small and large businesses with a quick turnaround."