Southern design nous impresses Iowa manufacturer

Christchurch's Fabrum Solutions has scored a three-month, $350,000 contract to supply parts to US-based machinery manufacturer Vermeer for a drilling product designed in Timaru.

Christchurch's Fabrum Solutions has scored a three-month, $350,000 contract to supply parts to a US-based machinery manufacturer for a drilling product designed in Timaru.

Fabrum has been developing carbon and glass fibre composite rotors for a new underground directional drilling product over the past year, designed by Timaru-based Flexidrill.

And thanks to a face-to-face meeting, Fabrum owner Chris Boyle says a licence to make the full drilling unit has gone to Iowa-based Vermeer, with Fabrum supplying all titanium and composite parts for the first 10 machines.

“When we turned up on their doorstep in September last year we discovered we weren’t even being considered for the job. Being so far from the USA Vermeer did not think New Zealand could offer them the service they were after. Add to that the Christchurch earthquakes and they were fairly adamant that Christchurch was not a place where manufacturing could be relied upon. We were adamant that we had to change their mind,” said Boyle.

Fabrum then set about working with Flexidrill and Vermeer to redesign the product in order to reduce production costs, resulting in an offer for the first stage of the production contract.

That meeting, which Boyle describes as a turning point, was enabled by a $24,900 grant from the Canterbury Business Recovery Trust to help the company reconnect with markets in the US and UK.

To fulfil the contract, which needs to be completed by March, Fabrum is expanding its production facility and recruiting two more staff. Boyle is confident the agreement will be extended for a full year.

Boyle and Hugh Reynolds established Fabrum Solutions in 2004, which manufactures products for the high-temperature superconductor industry as well as offering waterjet cutting and profiling.

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