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Napier firm wins Waikato Expressway steel bridge contract

Media release
26 March 2014

Napier firm wins big steel bridge contract for Waikato Expressway

The Hawkes Bay economy stands to benefit to the tune of $1.3 million thanks to a big contract win by Napier steel bridge specialist Eastbridge.

The firm will supply 1,300 tonnes of steel for the 200 metre long, 40 metre high Karapiro Viaduct, the largest of eight bridges on the Cambridge section of the NZ Transport Agency’s Waikato Expressway project.

Eastbridge Managing Director Bruce Mellsop says his firm had to fend off competition, including from several overseas bids, in order to win the job.

“Based on upfront price alone, it’s very hard for local firms to compete with Chinese companies. But when other factors are taken into account, such as local economic spinoffs and risks around the quality of imported prefabricated steel, New Zealand fabricated steel is very competitive.

“So it’s great to see procurers – in the case of this project, HEB Structures on behalf of NZ Transport Agency – taking a bigger picture approach.”

HEB Structures, the structural arm of main contractor HEB Construction, awarded the contract to Eastbridge following a comprehensive tender evaluation process. HEB Structures General Manager Noel Band says it was a close tender.

“Initially there was a considerable cost difference between the local and overseas bids, but when risk-related factors were considered, the price difference shrunk. Additional ‘soft’ factors, including maintaining successful local business relationships and the impact on the local economy, helped to swing the decision in Eastbridge’s favour in this instance.”

Steel Construction New Zealand manager Alistair Fussell says the increase in construction activity around the country means demand for structural steel is growing.

“As the demands on the local steel fabrication sector increase, procurers will naturally look offshore. Our main concern is that they need to be aware of the risks around imported prefabricated steel. Compliance with local steel standards can be a real problem and can lead to costly and time consuming inspections and, in some cases, repairs.

“Procurers, particularly those in the public sector, must consider all the risks when sourcing offshore, as well as the economic and social impact for New Zealand.”

Eastbridge estimated there would be a $0.8 million tax revenue loss to the government if the steelwork was procured offshore.


About Steel Construction New Zealand
Steel Construction New Zealand Inc. (SCNZ) aims to advance the interests of New Zealand’s diverse steel construction industry by promoting the benefits of steel solutions in building and infrastructure projects. Members include manufacturers of structural steel and steel products, distributors, fabricators, designers, detailers, galvanisers, and paint and building supply companies. SCNZ provides its members with technical advice on the latest in steel design trends and standards, networking opportunities and a representative voice with key industry and government decision-makers. For more information please visit

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