Christchurch rebuild opportunity

KAT PICKFORD
Last updated 15:55 07/12/2012
Rodger Cullen
Scott Hammond

Timber talks: Blenheim Placemakers owner Rodger Cullen hopes to find a way around the logistical issues of transporting pre-made frames and trusses for timber homes to Christchurch

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Blenheim Placemakers owner Rodger Cullen saw the "golden opportunity" for Marlborough businesses soon after the devastating earthquake in Christchurch on February 22 last year.

After the Placemakers national office pushed the idea of building 20 emergency sleepouts for people left homeless by the earthquake, he started to brainstorm other ways the Blenheim building supplies store could contribute to the rebuild.

"That project was our bit to help out the people of Christchurch at the time, and got me thinking about the other opportunities to come out of the rebuild," he said.

"We had a chat with our clients in Blenheim and Christchurch to see what they were looking for and how we could make it work."

They discovered an opportunity to supply manufactured timber house frames and trusses for the rebuild, but transport had to be sorted out to ensure it was a viable venture, he said.

"The work needs to be done in a way most cost-effective to the end user in Christchurch."

Any extra work for Christchurch will fit in with work for Marlborough customers, he said.

Marlborough Mayor Alistair Sowman said yesterday the Marlborough District Council encouraged businesses in the region that wanted to get involved in the rebuild to join a trip to Christchurch next month to connect with key groups involved in the rebuild.

Dubbed the combined council-Marlborough business initiative (Combi), the trip has been organised by the council and the Marlborough Chamber of Commerce and is scheduled for January 28 and 29.

Details of the trip are still to be finalised, but it is expected to include presentations from Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) and the Stronger Christchurch Rebuild Team.

Marlborough businesses will also have the chance to meet key people from the Central Christchurch Development Unit, the large businesses leading the rebuild.

Mr Sowman said the combined business group followed the council's forum in August when Marlborough businesses met the managers of some of the major Christchurch rebuild projects. Some Marlborough businesses had already won contracts in Christchurch as a result of the forum, he said.

"This is a next step, which I hope will underline to the Christchurch construction community that Marlborough does have the capacity to play a role in the Christchurch rebuild," he said.

Chamber of Commerce general manager Brian Dawson said he hoped Marlborough would be represented by a range of industries.

Companies who specialised in areas such as design, roading, commercial construction, residential building, joinery and building supplies were all encouraged to register their interest.

The scale of opportunity was so large that smaller business could consider working together to get contracts, he said.

"That would be a change of approach for many businesses here but that collaborative approach is definitely worth considering."

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- The Marlborough Express

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