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Kaikoura Firm Buzzing With Success

Kaikoura Firm Buzzing With Success

Abuzz with excitement is how a Kaikoura based timber and beehive maker describes its expansion plans.

VL Smith and Sons is working with distributors to market its kiln dried timber products, including kitset beehives, in Australia, the Middle East and the United States. Industry New Zealand has assisted the cost of business plan development for the project under its Business Growth Funding programme.

“The timing’s right and there’s a growing demand for our products overseas. We’re finalising a business plan now that should see our output grow by 20 percent with careful planning,” says General Manager Jeremy Smith.

“The business plan is critical to our long-term growth. It maps out a strategy for us to grow our offshore business and have solid systems in place to capture opportunities.”

VL Smith and Sons is a major employer in the Kaikoura region, and the expansion should see it taking up to 6 extra staff over the next two years.

The business only uses high quality kiln dried timber – a product that has been well received overseas because of its durability and value-for-money, says Mr Smith.

“Our aim is to produce premium, high-quality timber products that provide long term client satisfaction,” he says.

Another strategy for export growth has been to develop niche products for markets where demand is high,

“It’s been key to our success in markets such as Canada, USA and South Africa,“ Mr Smith says.

Recent installations and software upgrades at the VLS plant also allow the business to shift production runs to meet customer needs quickly.

“We are versatile enough to be fully responsive to changes in our key markets and that’s pretty important for a small business,” Mr Smith says.

Even though timber products form the bulk of VLS exports, demand for their beehive products is also increasing rapidly.

Two major product lines- beehive boxes and beehive frames – are produced under the ‘Alliance’ brand.

Alliance products were considered world-class by attendees at the Apimondia International Beekeeping Conference in South Africa last year.

“The market for their products is immense and so is the competition. They’ve tackled this by positioning themselves as a quality supplier in niche markets,” says Industry New Zealand Manager Southern Region Paul Claridge

“They are targeting markets with products in which they have proven expertise. Their products are superior in terms of quality, presentation and availability - market penetration should be achieved quite successfully,” says Mr Claridge.

“We’re a family business – we’ve been in Kaikoura for nearly 40 years. We’ve been successful because we try to be good at what we do. We’re always striving for efficiencies and focus on innovation to keep us ahead,” Mr Smith.

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