The 2,400m² manufacturing plant represents a $10 million investment by Fairview Metal Industries Group (FMI) – an Australasian window and door designer and distributer which markets its products under two brand names – Fairview and Elite.
FMI director Warren Lewis says in some ways it is a South Island homecoming for the company which was founded in Timaru in 1909. FMI is now headquartered in Auckland and employs over 250 people throughout Australasia.
Increasing freight costs were making it uneconomic to service the company’s traditional South Island customers, says Lewis. In order for FMI to retain its traditional customers and prepare for when the building industry bounces back, the company realised it needed plant in the South Island.
“We chose Izone because of its location next to State Highway One and because we were able to buy enough land to allow us, in the future, to double in size. It’s also pretty special to be in a well constructed business park with views of the Southern Alps and a local workforce nearby.”
Lewis says despite FMI’s shaky Canterbury welcome last month he’s reassured the factory was not damaged in the quake.
FMI imports glass through the Port of Lyttelton because there are no New Zealand manufacturers. The glass is prepared on an Italian-designed table and cut by an automated glass cutter. The latest Finnish technology is used to strengthen the glass and then, in a New Zealand first, another Italian-designed machine makes ‘warm edge’ insulated glass which is more efficient than the traditional ‘cold edge’ glass.
“By using the latest technology we will be producing the most thermally efficient insulated glass in the country at a higher volume than our competitors with fewer overheads,” Lewis says.
Between now and Christmas the plant will be tested and de-bugged, with manufacturing beginning in the New Year. Lewis says six to eight people will be employed initially and then expand as production increases.
Fairview Metal Industries Ltd also tailor-makes glass balustrades, pool fences, staircases, floors, walls, showers, kitchen splashbacks, screens and partitions.