Helping hand turns southern pebbles into gold

ON SITE: The site of export company Southern Stone and Timber in Awarua Bay, near Invercargill. The company has received initial startup funds of more then $500,000 from an American businessman and good friend.
JILL MCKEE/142946
ON SITE: The site of export company Southern Stone and Timber in Awarua Bay, near Invercargill. The company has received initial startup funds of more then $500,000 from an American businessman and good friend.

An American company's investment has given a helping hand to one Invercargill couple who have set up a thriving export business despite the worldwide recession.

 

John Drain and his wife Kim Woodruff-Drain formed pebble export business Southern Stone and Timber in 2005, with the intention of getting it up and running when they had the funds they needed.

That time came 18 months ago when American businessman and good friend Laurence Turley offered to form a partnership with them.

Mr Turley, president of Turley International Resources, provided initial start-up funds of more than half a million dollars to get the company under way.

Operating out of a greystone quarry in Awarua Bay, Southern Stone and Timber became the biggest exporter of pebble in Southland in its first year, supplying the American market with product that was mainly used as decorative aggregates for swimming pools.

Mr Drain said things had been going great and there were big plans for expansion in the future.

A rotary kiln, extra screen plant and a bagging plant were all planned for 2010 which would open up markets in Australia, Asia and Europe, he said.

Currently the material was exported to America partly wet but the kiln would allow it to be fully dried and then bagged up and sent away, he said.

The dire economic situation in America had resulted in a drop in exports but things were improving again, he said.

The plant employs one fulltime worker and was set to hire another in the coming months, Mr Drain said. The expansion would hopefully create even more jobs next year.

Turley International Resources owns 90 per cent of the shares in the company but plans would result in himself and his wife increasing their ownership back to 49 per cent, he said.

shane.cowlishaw@stl.co.nz

The Southland Times