Rebuild support higher than ever

COLLETTE DEVLIN
Last updated 05:00 26/06/2014
welding
KIRK HARGREAVES/Fairfax NZ
HARD AT WORK: David Fosbender, of Southern Steel Windows, welds a window frame bound for Christchurch.

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Southland support for the Christchurch rebuild is higher than ever, with the amount of services and materials going north "dramatically increasing" in the past two months.

More than 200 Southland businesses have committed to the Venture Southland-led Canterbury South initiative and are now starting to see results.

The initiative provides southern labour and services in Christchurch, but allows businesses to remain based in the south.

A Venture Southland report, presented at a meeting this week, says the amount of services and materials being supplied from Southland to Christchurch has soared in the past two months.

Materials included aluminium and steel windows, sheet metal, louvres, steel framing, speciality glass work, relocatable buildings, structural steel, electrical work and roading construction work.

Canterbury South co-ordinator Ian Donaldson said work had started to flow and was rapidly moving along.

"The next three or four months are looking good for Southland businesses," he said.

Some Southland firms had picked up large contracts.

A Christchurch City Development Unit (part of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority) spokesman said Southland businesses were well placed to take advantage of the rebuild.

Venture Southland was one of the most active economic agencies engaging with the recovery, he said.

His advice to any Southland business wanting to get involved was to partner up. Invercargill-based Calder Stewart and Nind Electrical had done this and were now well placed, he said.

The Roading Company general manager David Wilson started working in Christchurch because the Government was spending less on regional roading and he needed to maintain his workforce.

His advice to any business was not to work as a sub-contactor because it was financially unfavourable.

There was a push for bigger contractors, but for smaller operators such as himself, it was better to work independently.

The five main contractors of the rebuild were getting busy and had too much work, so more opportunities for smaller firms were being created, Wilson said.

Howard Phillips of Southern Steel Windows had worked in Christchurch before the rebuild but said in the past six months his workload had increased substantially. However, there was a shortage of skilled labour, which was having an impact.

E Type Engineering Christchurch branch manager Terry Timms said the business had hit the ground running when it opened last year and had hired extra staff because of an influx of work in the past six weeks.

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Having direct relationships with businesses in Christchurch was the key to its success, Timms said.

Many firms just landed in Christchurch and hoped for work but this was not the best way forward, he said.

Venture Southland enterprise and strategic projects group manager Steve Canny said feedback had come from several Southland companies in Christchurch that Canterbury firms were looking for extra supply in certain areas, but there were payout issues and delays that created frustrations.

"Non-payment of accounts should not really happen but there has been slow delivery of funds from those commissioning the work and insurance companies."

This week the Venture Southland Directorate approved an allocation of $40,000 so Donaldson can continue work with the initiative.

About 25 Southland businesses are expected to attend a meet-the-buyers day in Christchurch on July 23.

- The Southland Times

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