Lines repair firm hires more staff
Electricity lines repairs company Connetics is ramping up staff towards the 300 mark to cope with Christchurch rebuild work, including infrastructure for new subdivisions in Canterbury.
Staff numbers are already at 275, up from 220 before the earthquakes, and chief executive Jono Brent says another 10 to 30 are needed in the repair environment.
Brent said the early emergency repair work had been largely done.
There was significant breaking of underground electrical cables as a result of the February 22, 2011, quake. In the 12 months after the devastating event, Connetics brought in an extra 225 contractors to help.
In a normal 12-month period Connetics would do about 50 repairs to its 11,000 volt underground cables. But in the year after February 22 the company made about 1400 repairs to 250 cables with many multiple breaks in evidence. Staff would spend up to 12 hours on each repair.
During this quake repair period, revenue for the Orion- owned subsidiary jumped to $75 million in the year to March 31, 2012, from $50m in the year to March 31, 2011. Net profit jumped to $3.3m from $1.1m in the same period.
It was hard to predict revenues and profit for the 2013 year but it was likely that revenue would fall back towards the normal range of $50m to $60m.
The focus would return to normal repairs on the Orion-owned network that spread like a spider's web over Christchurch. "The distribution network is everywhere from your Transpower lines finish . . . they come into Papanui, they come into Islington, and it ends at your gate. Then after that it's a private network."
While Connetics was at the beck and call of its owner, Orion, it had contracted successfully to build a substation and the delivery of power to Fonterra's new Darfield plant and the power source to light the new rugby stadium in Addington.
Another contract to build 550 street lights for the new southern motorway would be completed next month and was worth more than $4m of revenues. Connetics had also installed the tsunami warning system in suburbs, including Brighton and Sumner.
It held an existing contract for street lighting for the Christchurch City and Selwyn District councils, which would be supplemented by new contracts.
"Subdivisions are probably the one that is going to drive our workload the most, [but] it's wholly dependent on the speed they hit the marketplace."
While the bulk of its work was in Canterbury, though not including the Waimakariri District serviced by Mainpower, Connetics had established beachheads in Palmerston North (working with the Powerco network from October) and more recently in Wellington, Brent said.
The purchase of Petone-based Linework and Stones in June had increased the company's North Island staff to 24.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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