Northpine's Bruce Larsen

June 27, 2022

Meeting challenges square on

In these truly extraordinary times, Northpine continues to focus on producing high-quality radiata pine as efficiently as we can.

The emphasis is to deliver our specialist range of square posts and beams (long-length and large dimension SG8 and SG10), sold to merchants nationwide.

This may sound straightforward, but it really isn’t.

We have ongoing and severe supply-side constraints and relentless customer demand – normally a ‘good problem’ to have. But throughout the past summer and autumn of Omicron, it has been a tremendous daily challenge to keep production through the sawmill on track and get this sought-after timber onto trucks for delivery to merchants up and down the country. At various times our own people have been sick or have had to isolate, and so have some of the truckies who freight the timber to our distribution centre in Silverdale or beyond. Recent cartage delays have been very frustrating to all concerned.

The labour market is incredibly tight – our borders have been closed to immigrant workers while sawmills all over NZ are crying out for staff - but we often fail to attract even unskilled labour. All these things place tremendous pressure on the dedicated team here at Northpine. The health and safety of our staff is paramount, so we must be careful not to over-burden our workforce.

Given these challenges, it is heartening to see our specialist range called Northbeam being used in a wide variety of construction projects across NZ and overseas. Last month we despatched a sizable export order to New Caledonia for use in commercial projects there.

Northbeam features in two recently-completed large civil infrastructure projects at different ends of the country – the new Mangonui Waterfront in the Far North (including a new 350m timber boardwalk alongside the picturesque harbour) and the ‘Three Bridges’ project across the Avon River in Christchurch. These bridges are reconnecting people with 600ha of residential ‘red zone’ that is becoming a new recreational space.

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