Engineering business closure comes as shock

Valley Crates & Engineering has been in operation in Dunedin for 21 years. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
Valley Crates & Engineering has been in operation in Dunedin for 21 years. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
Valley Crates and Engineering staff were left in shock and on the brink of unemployment when liquidators turned up to close the business last Tuesday.

The company, which largely works with structural steel, had 13 staff working at its Kaikorai Valley workshop.

A manager at the workshop said staff had no idea the business would be closing and were given one hour’s warning before the receiver showed up.

"I truly don’t know why or how this has happened," he said.

"We were basically as shocked as everyone else when the receivers walked in.

"How, why did this happen?

"Work was never an issue with this company ... We were doing 60 hours a week.

"We had 13 guys here working six days a week. Flat out busy the last eight, nine months."

He said they were told the receivers were coming in to get the most they could for any debtors, "anyone we owe money to".

The company was started on November 16, 1999 and was bought by Morgan Campbell in 2010.

Mr Campbell has been approached for comment.

Trevor Laing, of insolvency specialists, Trevor Laing & Associates Ltd, is the receiver, the manager said.

Eight of the 13 staff were from India or the Philippines and had work visas aligned with Valley Crates and Engineers.

The manager said he was now working to get them jobs elsewhere and hoped their visas would not be disrupted.

The workers were mostly fabrication engineers and welders.

"We are at the moment ... trying to work through their visas because their visas are with Valley Crates and Engineering," the manager said.

"Now that Valley Crates has shut down ... these guys can’t go next door and get a job without transferring their visa details.

"My mission is to get all my boys a job, then I’m going to just walk away from the place because I’ll be a happy man [if my staff get jobs]."

Immigration New Zealand’s rules say if a visa was granted for a specific job at a workplace and that employer shuts, the immigrant is breaching work visa conditions, which may result in deportation.

They have to change their status by making a new visa application.

The manager said he had contacted engineering firms in Dunedin and was confident he would find jobs for the staff.

He said it was possible someone would buy the business or part of it.

"Anything that was any good in this place ... all the steel, all the consumables, all the overalls and the people that supply those have taken all that.

"We’re basically tidying up.

"My understanding is the receivers are trying to sell the business as a going concern."

In July last year, the business was told by the Employment Relations Authority to pay more than $30,000 to a former worker who it said was unfairly dismissed.

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