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Patience & Nicholson celebrates 50 years of business

Patience & Nicholson celebrates 50 years of Canterbury business

A proud Canterbury manufacturer is going from strength to strength and celebrates 50 years of success this month, amid trying times for the sector*.

Kaiapoi drilling manufacturer Patience & Nicholson, which employs a 120-strong local workforce, first opened its factory in November 1962, with the aim to manufacture a small range of jobber drills for the New Zealand market.

Half a century later the plant produces more than 60,000 drill bits every day and its brands Evacut, P&N and Sutton are market leaders in the New Zealand, Australia, South Pacific and several South East Asian markets.

General manager Kevin Donovan says significant growth has occurred since 1994, when it was purchased by Australian Sutton Tools, one of the largest family-owned tool-cutting companies in the world.

The heavy investment that came with the acquisition allowed the New Zealand business to transform into a modern, efficient facility which was able to in turn acquire its own import company in 2000.

Mr Donovan says the company has had to overcome its fair share of adversity over the years, with several ownership changes, margin reduction, the introduction of a new brand and various recessionary periods.

“Despite difficult market conditions the company’s future looks bright, with brand development, new concept machines and environmentally friendly oil recovery presses all on the horizon,” he says.

Plans for a modern, new plant are also being considered- although the building sustained only superficial damage in the Christchurch earthquake, bringing it back up to building standards will cost more than $400,000.

Mr Donovan says the way staff, and members of the company’s own engineering team were able to react quickly and get strengthening work done within days, almost certainly saved the factory from closure altogether.

“It has been an unsettling time for staff, the “can do, will do” culture has been a credit to them all, many of whom are still dealing with the stresses of personal and family life disruptions.”

Mr Donovan says reaching the 50 year milestone is a great achievement for any business.

More than 100 ex-employees joined current staff, owners and directors at the company’s 50th anniversary celebrations on November 15 at the Kaiapoi Club.

The celebration also marks an important milestone for one of the company’s employees, Neville Wyatt, who joined as an apprentice before the factory opened in 1962 and celebrated 50 years of service in August.

Mr Donovan says Neville is testament to the value the company places on staff skills training and development.

“Developing and retaining our staff is a very important part of our success and we’re proud to say our average length of service is more than 13 years.”

- Ends -

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