Cutting-edge machine boon for kitchen business

Kitchens for Less managing director Gary Shaw shows off the new $230,000 Weeke Vantage 100. Photo by Linda Robertson.
Kitchens for Less managing director Gary Shaw shows off the new $230,000 Weeke Vantage 100. Photo by Linda Robertson.
Home renovations around Otago are providing Dunedin-based Kitchens for Less with a huge incentive for expansion, and last week it installed a state-of-the art, fully automated cutting, drilling and routing machine.

The $230,000 German-made machine links into a separate $50,000 software programme that not only displays a proposed kitchen design in on-screen 3-D, but also works out the specifications, cutting requirements, volumes and overall costings - down to each individual component.

Kitchens for Less managing director Gary Shaw said the Weeke Vantage 100 was one of only a few of the latest-generation of Weeke cutters installed in the country, and in a nine-hour day could ''easily'' cut out the hundreds of panels that would make up three ''average'' kitchens.

''If the workshop was a glossy magazine, the Weeke would be the centrefold,'' Mr Shaw quipped.

With 15 to 20 sheets of expensive white or coloured laminate panels per kitchen and a 0.1mm tolerance, the precise accuracy saved time, any need to rework, and cost, Mr Shaw said.

''There could be two, up to 30 separate pieces to come out of one panel.''

The Weeke was also a boon for health and safety. With its large extraction system it was almost dust-free, it was quieter, and staff had far less lifting to do.

Kitchens for Less started in 2001 with two employees and three years later had six staff, who made 150 kitchens. By 2013, the company had expanded to 10 staff, with four in the workshop, and the business made 440 kitchens that year.

Alongside that expansion, Mr Shaw said there were now ''satellite stores'' in Oamaru, Cromwell, Alexandra and Queenstown that were independently owned but sold Kitchens for Less products.

He said about 90% of the company's work was for renovations and 10% for new-build homes, and the company's strength lay in supplying the ''mid-range'' of kitchen manufacturing, from $7000 to $15,000.

-simon.hartley@odt.co.nz

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