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Kiwi Tiles Top US Houses

Kiwi Tiles Top US Houses

From the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology - For immediate release


Auckland roofing manufacturer Metrotile (NZ) Ltd has grown from a small, three-worker plant into a 25-staff, two-shift operation after securing big export sales of its steel shingles to the United States.

Exports of the patented shingle roof tiles are now worth about $12 million a year, up from $2 million two years ago. The shingles’ big advantage is that they last up to 50 years – five times as long as the fibreglass or wooden tiles used by many American house-owners.

“The Metrotile shingles not only last up to five times as long, but also they are less prone to leak and they’re fire-resistant,” says general manager Torry McSkimming.

The company’s export opportunity arose out of director Jim Ross’s visit to a housing show in the United States. “Jim is a roofer, and he was talking to some Americans who were wondering how they could get shingles that lasted longer,” Mr McSkimming says.

Mr Ross designed the shingle on the flight home and discussed it with the company’s toolmaker, Dave Locke, on his return. Being a totally new design concept, they knew from experience that the press tool would be expensive because it would require many modifications before full production could begin.

Technology New Zealand was contacted to assist and provided the “science” through a jointly funded development project. Technology New Zealand – part of the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology –invests in research into products, processes or services.

“The funding allowed Jim and Dave to work it all out,” Mr McSkimming says. “They started off with a couple of pieces of paper and folded them like origami. In a nutshell, that’s how they did it.”

The company also developed a new coating using a finer chip than had previously been available. The chip gave the tile a greater definition on the roof and added to the aesthetic appeal. An unforeseen advantage of the finer chip was that while it made the tile more expensive, it was lighter so more tiles could be put in an export container.

The result has been a big export winner, with sales mainly to the United States, where weather conditions take a heavy toll on roofs.

“The Metrotile shingles last up to 50 years, they don’t split in the sun, and they’re strong enough to withstand the golfball-sized hailstones they get in Texas,” Mr McSkimming says. “The technology was developed entirely here in New Zealand.”


Caption: A roof with Metrotile’s new steel shingles, which last up to five times as long as the fibreglass or wooden tiles used by many American house-owners.


· Torry McSkimming, general manager, Metrotile (NZ) Ltd, 1C Inlet Rd., Takanini, South Auckland. Ph: (09) 299-9210. Fax: (09) 298-4114. Email: · Nigel Metge, Technology New Zealand at the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology (Auckland Office), (09) 912-6730, or 021 454-095. Website:

Prepared on behalf of the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology by ID Communications. Contact: Ian Carson (04) 477-2525. Email:

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