New Tauranga Facility | Business

Tauriko Plant in Tip Top Hands

Wednesday, 15 December 2021
By Rachel Fanshawe

Winstone Wallboards’ new Tauriko plasterboard facility may be in its infancy, but those in the engine room have a long and rich history with the organisation.

In fact, when the manufacturing and distribution plant opens its doors in 2023, more than a third of the team will be made up of veteran Winstone Wallboards employees relocating from Auckland.  From engineers, electricians and maintenance operators, to managers, production operators and distribution team leaders - their combined knowledge and depth of experience will ensure a smooth and seamless transition.

“The new Tauriko factory will be in great hands with so many of our existing Winstone Wallboards team members at the helm,” says HR Manager Suliana Mailangi. “Their vast knowledge and experience – both of our organisation and the industry as a whole – will ensure the continuity of operations during the startup of the factory, as well as the ongoing high standard of delivery of GIB® products.”

New Tauriko Distribution Centre Manager Pat Wilson and Manufacturing Manager Leon Viret have both been with Winstone Wallboards for close to a decade. Pat joined the company in 2012 as a dispatch operator at The Gate in Auckland, and has worked his way up in a range of roles including Distribution Team Leader, National Training & MHE Coordinator, and most recently The Gate Distribution Manager.

Meanwhile Leon came onboard as a production manager in 2013, and is now Auckland Manufacturing Manager, seconded to the role of Manufacturing Operations Lead for the Tauriko development. As he explains, it marks a welcome return to the region.

“When we first came to New Zealand from South Africa, we spent six years in Whakatane. When I heard we were building a new plant in Tauriko, there was no doubt I would be a starter for the Bay,” says Leon.

“Apart from Winstone Wallboards being a highly successful company with great people, Tauriko presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to become a part of history. I am grateful for the chance to be an intergral part of such a huge project.”

There’s much to look forward to: “The thrill of learning and starting up a new plant, building a highly effective team and continuing to contribute towards building New Zealand, where every board, bag and pail is produced and delivered with such pride.”

Many other Winstone Wallboards loyalists have also been seconded to the project and have jumped at the chance to relocate to the Bay. In fact, Project Engineer Hannah Orchard has relocated not once, but twice, to ensure she stays at the coalface of the facility’s design and build.

“I’m originally from Christchurch and was working as a continuous process improvement engineer for Winstone Wallboards down there,” she explains. “When the project planning and design phase for Tauriko began I moved to Auckland. I was there for two years while that phase was completed and then recently moved to Tauriko.”

And she couldn’t be happier about it.

“For the last couple of years I’ve been staring at the plans and drawings and now I’m on site experiencing the live progress. The day I’m most looking forward to is the day we get to press the green button, the day the plant goes live, and the first plasterboard is manufactured.”

She’s not the only one. Former Winstone Wallboards production operator Ravinder Singh is stepping into the newly-created role of Tauriko HSE Advisor thanks to the support and career development opportunities offered by the company. After recently completing a part-time Occupational Health and Safety degree, this is his dream job.

“Leading and innovative organisations need industry-leading health and safety initiatives and I am looking forward to new challenges along with maintaining a safe working environment for our current operations,” says Ravinder.

“With the commissioning of this new factory, we are entering a new era of Winstone Wallbaords history and I am delighted to be a part of this great journey.”

Now that’s a sentiment shared by everybody in ‘team Tauriko’!