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Firm's Backing Gets Export Orders for Astro-turf

Firm's Backing Gets Export Orders

An Auckland firm is backing its new product as international hockey players run all over it.

Astrograss Allwear Surfaces Ltd has created an international standard backing for synthetic grass, much like the backing on carpet, which provides stable footing for hockey players.

The company has used investment from Technology New Zealand to develop the backing and build export orders that have so far included Australia, South Korea, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

It is not only the product that Astrograss is selling, but also the equipment for making and spreading it.

"Secondary backing for artificial grass is not exactly new," Astrograss production manager Phil Harris says.

"We've been importing the compound from Belgium, where it's made, and putting the synthetic backing on to the grass like the Belgians do. But it's expensive, and it has affected our competitiveness overseas."

So the company investigated ways of doing things differently, and looked to Technology New Zealand for investment. The Government agency helps companies develop new products, processes and services.

"The equipment we built and modified was smaller than what the Belgians use," Mr Harris says.

"That's partly because of New Zealand market conditions. But we aimed at the wet surface market, which is now the Olympic standard."

Previously, the surfaces were sand-filled. Wet-surface hockey fields are thoroughly soaked before a match, and again during half-time, which helps players with stability. "Sand-filled synthetic grass is very hard on players, and so the move is to wet surfaces."

Mr Harris says three hockey fields have been laid in Australia, "and all to the international standards".

One has been put down in South Korea and another in The Netherlands. In New Zealand, one field has been laid in Northland and two in Otago. Astrograss has 35 employees, and the company does all its own manufacturing and installing. -ends-

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