The walls have gone up, the roof is on, and the final slabs of cedar are being put into place. The hulking 8000 square metres of buildings that dominate Northgate Business Park are ready.

Ready to launch the business they house into new markets, and to help it claim fresh ground in old markets. 


It's all part of the "grand master plan" that - if all goes well - could see Waikato Milking Systems double business over the next five to ten years, says chief executive Dean Bell.


The new site just north of Hamilton is a key part of bringing together the milking systems and componentry company's scattered divisions to foster "synergies" and a seamless production.


At the slightly delayed date of August this year, all 110 New Zealand staff should be moved into the new $12 million to $14 million premises.


Ideally, that will position the company to shift from doing roughly 30 per cent of its business internationally, to about 80 per cent - all while maintaining its hold on the New Zealand market, says Bell.


That means the global staff of 130 is likely to grow despite the centralisaton, and introduction of lean manufacturing, says Bell. 


After all, international growth is already sky-rocketing. 


"Our international business grew 40 per cent last year, and this year we're predicting it'll do probably the same again," says Bell.


Part of ensuring that growth will involve getting staff on the ground in key markets, like the United Kingdom and China. Already, the company has staff in Australia and the United States where Bell has his eye on "some opportunities to really differentiate from competitors there and take a big piece of the market". 


Part of that will involve the company's new "high strength, light weight " composite rotary platforms, for which it has secured all the patents after a challenge from a competitor.


Bell calls it "the next evolution of rotaries".


"It has been hugely successful for us". 


The company has installed 45 of the composite systems in New Zealand and is now selling into Israel, Russia and Australia. It is also about to install an 84 bail composite rotary system in the United States, and is likely to be one of the bigger systems in the country he says.


That focus on growth and innovation is also being actively encouraged by the company's new owners.


Ngai Tahu, Tainui and Pioneer Capital are "very keen to accelerate the growth of the company," says Bell.


That growth will be critical in a low pay out year for New Zealand dairy farmers, he adds.


"New Zealand is going to take a hair cut. When you go from an $8 payout to $4.70, the guys that are not having to upgrade or convert will hold."


That's why Bell is keen to see the company establish itself overseas. The deals are waiting to be done, he says.


"Watch this space."


NARELLE HENSON

- Waikato Times

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