New premises demonstrate commitment to Christchurch

TESS MCCLURE
Last updated 05:00 05/04/2014

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Three years after a mystery fire destroyed their offices, Trimble New Zealand is moving into new hi-tech premises in Birmingham Drive.

The new building, which cost $18 million, was designed in collaboration between local architects, University of Canterbury researchers and Trimble.

The scale of the design and use of new, quake-safe technology make it one of the first of its kind in Australasia.

Trimble creates GPS positioning systems used in surveying, mapping, highway construction, transportation, agriculture, and construction. The global company had revenues of US$2.3 billion (NZ$2.7b) in 2013.

After three years spread across prefabs, hired offices and homes, chief executive Corinne Haines said the workers were "hugely excited" to be returning to a single site.

Trimble's original building sustained some damage in the February 2011 earthquake, and was undergoing repairs when it was gutted by fire, the exact cause of which remains a mystery.

Three firefighters were injured in the burning building.

Despite the setbacks, Trimble International committed to keeping its New Zealand base in Christchurch.

"When I rang the CEO in America on the morning of the fire, he said: ‘Look, just tell your staff we're committed to Christchurch and we'll help you rebuild.' There was never a thought that they would not support us," Haines said.

Trimble International president Steve Bergland said it was a "simple decision" to commit "to the business, the staff and the city that we would re-build".

He said the group's New Zealand operation was key to the research and development arm of the company, and the commitment of staff to delivering "throughout what has been an extremely difficult time for people in Christchurch" had reinforced the value of their New Zealand operation within the greater company.

The new building is one of the first large-scale construction projects to be completed by council-owned City Care, which took over contracts from Mainzeal after the company went into liquidation.

Landlord Ian Kennedy said the building project was "dead in the water" for about four months after Mainzeal went under, and the collapse had added around $2m to the bill.

The building is City Care's largest vertical building project since it controversially got into building construction in February 2013.

Building and construction manager Paul Blacker said City Care was now a "strategic building and construction company", which now covered the "whole construction continuum from design to construction to maintenance".

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- BusinessDay

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