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Major electronics group gathers momentum

Major electronics group gathers momentum

Canterbury Electronics Group, New Zealand’s biggest collection of electronics companies, is booming and expects to employ a full time business co-ordinator in the new year.

The group is a collection of Christchurch’s largest high-tech companies – Allied Telesyn, Dynamic Controls, Tait Electronics, Invensys Energy Systems, Pulse Data and Trimble Navigation.

They employ 2000 people locally and boast average productivity of $214,000 per employee - almost four times the national average.

A recent Lincoln University study showed that for every employee, five times as many are indirectly employed by supporting operations.

Total sales are $400 million a year, 90 percent of which are from exports. Collectively the companies contribute over $1 billion to the economy.

Group chairman Hugh Martyn said there had been three key developments in the last year.

“Firstly, we’ve formed three smaller groups, with staff from member companies, to pursue best practices in human resources, research and development and supply chain management.

“I think all member companies do some things brilliantly and some things not so well. We don’t compete with one another so we have this opportunity to learn from each other to lift our game.”

Mr Martyn said the second development was the group’s work with the University of Canterbury, which is soon to be expanded to other members of the Canterbury Tertiary Alliance to ensure technical courses are better aligned to work place opportunities and research opportunities are pursued.

The third success has been the liaison with central Government to promote the industry and remove bottlenecks.

“Collectively the group can more effectively provide input to possible government direction than any individual member companies could. We’ve had significant input into the recent ICT taskforce paper and have enjoyed an excellent rapport with the Minister of Economic Development, Jim Anderton and his people.

``They are genuinely interested in Christchurch’s high-tech success and are keen to support us.”

Mr Martyn said that because member companies produce very different products, the group may never grow into a closely-knit industry group like the wine institute.

“But there will always be common issues – long term ones like the skills shortage and spot issues that crop up from time to time - where we can benefit from a vocal, common voice.” A full time coordinator is now required to take the group’s operation to another level, according to Mr Martyn.

“We are coming up with some great ideas and certainly the best practice groups are successful, but there is only so much that can be achieved by busy CEOs getting together once a month. We really need a fulltime person driving these activities.”

Parents and young people need to be aware electronics is a solid growing, sustainable industry that offers exciting careers.

Christchurch is New Zealand’s largest centre for high-tech exports and Mr Martyn said there has never been a more exciting time for the local electronics sector.

“All member companies are forecasting growth over the next five years, our productivity is four times the national average and the number of small off-shoot companies sprouting up is increasing,’’ he said.

``Within a few years almost every exported product will have a technology component, even agricultural products. This is a young industry and attracts some pretty dynamic young people who want to influence business decisions as well as grow in their own fields.

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