Industrial door market key for Dunedin manufacturer

Tru-Bilt employee Steve Weller (left), with brothers Paul, Mark and Scott Taylor in the company's Kaikorai Valley Rd premises. Photo by Craig Baxter
Tru-Bilt employee Steve Weller (left), with brothers Paul, Mark and Scott Taylor in the company's Kaikorai Valley Rd premises. Photo by Craig Baxter
Tru-Bilt Industries has come a long way from supplying the local domestic garage door market.

The Dunedin-based company, which was established 20 years ago, branched out into the industrial door market and, with a price tag of up to $500,000, these are no ordinary doors.

Tru-Bilt has supplied insulated doors to Scott Base in the Antarctic, folding hangar doors to the Australian SAS, cyclone-rated doors to Townsville and the door for the hangar where Sir Peter Jackson's private jet is housed at Wellington International Airport.

The company has also done work on the Stone Street Studios in Wellington, of which Sir Peter is one of the co-owners. The largest door it has made was 68m wide, for a hangar at Nelson Airport that had been installed three years ago.

Locally, clients included Cadbury, with door systems, and Fonterra Mosgiel, with custom-designed container loading systems.

The company was established by Lawrie Taylor, who had been involved in the building industry and was seeking to do something different, and his son Mark.

Since 1993, it has grown from a two-man business to one with a permanent workforce of 18 with temps to help in busy periods. The garage door business was later sold.

Lawrie Taylor is now semi-retired and Mark is general manager, working alongside his brothers Scott, whose focus is purchasing and design, and Paul, who is workshop manager at the firm's Kaikorai Valley Rd premises.

It has three specific product ranges - industrial doors and loading dock systems for the food industry; specialised aircraft hangar doors; and safety barriers and bollards.

The safety barriers and bollards grew out of an issue where industrial doors kept getting hit by forklifts. They made some bollards to protect doors, and from that came a system.

With growth came challenges. Three years ago, the company implemented lean manufacturing, through a consultant in Christchurch. That had helped the business advance without having to double the size of its premises, Mark Taylor said.

The marketplace was ever-changing, innovation was vital when it came to ''staying ahead'' and the company was continually investing in research and development.

One of the strengths of the business was its team had embraced the culture of continuous improvement and, over the years, that had really added value to its product design, he said.

Scott Taylor said there were benefits from being based in Dunedin. The port was handy for exporting to Australia - where he believed there was further export potential - while freight was less expensive going north, compared with coming south, when it came to servicing the rest of the country.

There were also good suppliers in the city. As a family business, they all had complementary skills sets.

The success had not come without a lot of hard work, Mark Taylor said.

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