Spinning metal a lifetime of creativity
You might not have heard of Wellington bloke Basil Jones, but he probably made something in your house.
It could be in the hot water cupboard or the pantry, and it's almost certain the last time you ordered a pizza it was cooked on one of the trays he designed.
Jones has been spinning metal for more than 50 years. He just got his first large export order, more than 12 times the size of his last "large" order.
His Seaview company, Basil Jones Metal Spinners, supplies pizza base baking dishes to most of the major franchise pizza companies in New Zealand.
It is currently working on supplying 125,000 trays to the Australian arm of one of the international pizza brands, which it already counts as a customer in New Zealand.
"They were coming out with a new size pizza and they tendered worldwide, including China, and we got it," Jones said.
"They asked for samples so we did that very quickly and sent it away. They . . . liked it. They asked for a time frame and we told them we could do it in a month, they agreed and we won the tender."
The factory has hired seven temporary staff and has increased operations to 14 hours a day to meet the order's demands.
"We're in the third week out of four with a week to go and I really like that everything about them is made here in New Zealand, even the steel. We use New Zealand Steel who make it out of iron sands, it hasn't got any scrap in it at all, and the boxes, lubricants are all manufactured here."
The company makes other metal products that are circular and hollow such as the bases for outdoor lamps and the tops of hot water cylinders, tins for baking cakes in and frying pans. It has worked on Sir Peter Jackson's movies since his 1996 film The Frighteners.
"We made several things for that movie . . . We've done a lot more work with them since on the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films. The highlight for me was, you know when the fairy princess Galadriel pours out the water to see the future - I made the bowl and jug she uses."
There are now only two other companies in New Zealand using similar technology, one in Auckland and the other in Dunedin.
Basil Jones Metal Spinners uses analogue machines from 1976 for all its work. The new computerised machines on the market, from Germany, cost more than $1 million each, but the pre- digital models Basil Jones Metal Spinners has suit its needs fine.
The Australian order has been the single biggest order it has had since New Zealand's Fire Service ordered 10,000 candle holders. Although it had made more than 200,000 hot water cylinder tops, the work had been spread out over several years.
Jones first got into metal spinning when he left school with a part time job processing materials at a metal spinning company.
"I liked the creativity so I stayed."
Order of 125,000 pizza trays for Australia.
Four staff usually.
10 staff total to meet Australian order.
Factory operating 14 hours a day.
The Dominion Post