Based in Lower Hutt, Wellington, New Zealand Tube Mills (NZTM) recently upgraded its workshop with the purchase of a TRUMPF TruLaser Tube Fiber machine from Headland Machinery. Terry Carter, General Manager at NZTM, discussed the company and the impact the new machine has had.

AMT: How long has NZTM been in business?

Terry Carter: New Zealand Tube Mills stared in 1938. Originally, we were focused on producing truck rear-vision mirrors and pram wheels. The production of steel tubing and car exhaust systems followed soon after and took us down the path we are today.

During and following the Second World War there was a shortage of materials, which prompted the company to design and build tube mills capable of producing tubular steel using oxy-acetylene welding. Today, we focus on manufacturing precision carbon tube and an extensive range of stainless architectural food and beverage tube.

Our primary industry these days is horticulture and viticulture – with tubular steel trellising solutions. Export sales have increased steadily over the last three years, from 17% to over 35%. In addition to New Zealand, we sell into Australia and the USA. We also made sales to parts of Europe and even into to Russia, for vineyard posts. So we certainly have our markets covered, which offers greater stability.

AMT: What is the key to your company’s success?

TC: Thankfully we invest a lot of time and money into research & development (R&D) of our own products. We are also big believers in investing in technology to assist us to do the job well. One latest example of this is the TRUMPF TruLaser Tube machine, which we use to build our own products.

AMT: What would you say are NZTM’s greatest strengths?

TC: We are very responsive to the market, constantly monitoring any changes in the market, a change in customer needs. We also have a real “can-do” attitude, right across the board. So it certainly helps get things done, take on new projects or even adapt what we do now to do things better.

We also have top engineering and design staff. We focus on training and retaining our engineers and design staff, and they certainly love what they do.

AMT: What equipment have you purchased recently and why?

TC: The TRUMPF TruLaser Tube Fiber machine was the most recent significant purchase. It has allowed us to create a product to supply into the apple orchard sector that we couldn’t have done before. It’s all new business, and has given us sales of over $1m annually in the past two years and growing – this figure is including exports.”

AMT: Why did you choose this piece of equipment over the competition?

TC: We wanted ensure that this significant purchase would last, so quality of manufacture, technical and after-sales support were key drivers. Our view was that TRUMPF and Headland could provide this better than other supply options – this has proved to be the correct choice. In addition, due to the length of product we need to supply, we purchased the largest (longest bed length) TruLaser Fiber of its type now in New Zealand.

AMT: What other types of equipment do you have?

TC: As a tube producer we have dedicated tube mills. In addition we have specialised vineyard post production machinery. This equipment has produced over 3.5 million vineyard posts in the last five years alone.

The TRUMPF machinery allows us to produce top quality items in a timely and safe manner. This meets the needs of our expanding customer base and at the same time is increasing our sales.

AMT: What are your thoughts on the outlook for the industry at the moment?

TC: We have been fortunate to have expanded into a space that New Zealand is good at – namely producing top-quality wine and horticultural goods such as apples and berries – so it’s been a little protected for us in terms of volatility.