Inframax on recovery road

King Country ratepayer-owned roading contractor Inframax Construction has reported a $1.93 million loss, nearly $1 million less than predicted.

Inframax owner Waitomo District Council sacked the roading contractor's board last year after it tallied up a $6.5 million debt with Westpac and chief executive John Robertson resigned.

Last December, the district council appointed Chris Hayward as chief executive of the wholly owned subsidiary and former Otorohanga mayor and businessman Eric Tait as chairman.

They were asked to come up with a recovery plan.

The plan charted a return to profit over four years, forecasting losses of $2.9 million for 2011/12.

Waitomo Mayor Brian Hanna said the actual result was significantly better than that, resulting in a loss of $1.93 million.

The better-than-expected result was achieved through closing the Wanganui branch and strengthening the New Plymouth branch, continued good delivery of the Ruapehu contract and winning the neighbouring Otorohanga district's maintenance contract.

"This occurred despite a very difficult trading environment, and with some high one-off costs in regard to staff redundancies," Mr Hanna said.

Inframax's workforce decreased from 250 to 160.

"It is very pleasing to see this positive result, in a very tough contracting environment. While certainly not out of the woods yet, the Inframax board has worked extremely hard, and spent many long hours well above the expectations of a typical director working at delivering what is best for the company."

Mr Hanna thanked Mr Hayward and his management team for their work and the three directors, which include former Fonterra director Earl Rattray.

"Chris has worked tirelessly over the past year to refocus the company to deliver profit, reduce overheads, and place the company on a more sustainable pathway going forward," Mr Hanna said.

Mr Tait said "very difficult decisions" had to be made at board level but Inframax was still strategically placed to service the lower Waikato and Taranaki region through to Wanganui.

Waikato Times