Engineering start-up fills local needs

Carving out a niche engineering solution in Dunedin is a work in progress for Ross Sutherland's start-up company, but he's gaining traction.

Mr Sutherland (38) - an engineer for the past 20 years, and business owner of Sutherland Machining Services for just four months - spotted a pitfall in the local market faced by many Dunedin manufacturers.

''Technicians are having to be flown in from Christchurch or Melbourne for some equipment, just for regular maintenance work.

''I realised there was a massive gap there,'' he said yesterday.

Ross Sutherland at Quality Doors in Dunedin yesterday, with a CNC router. Photo: Gregor Richardson
Ross Sutherland at Quality Doors in Dunedin yesterday, with a CNC router. Photo: Gregor Richardson
Mr Sutherland believes up to seven out of every 10 Dunedin companies have to fly in specialist engineering technicians to service their processing equipment.

He said he was building up the ''site knowledge'' of working with different machines, and there was an element of ''24/7'' availability to the job.

Some machinery was so automated the machines are expected to work ''around the clock'' unassisted, sometimes for hours on end.

''Companies come to rely heavily on that production [being kept up],'' he said.

Mr Sutherland said while his competitors are the well-resourced and staffed big machine suppliers, his point of difference was having the service and engineering solutions on hand.

Mr Sutherland's company has already built up a supportive clientele list, including Ron Kirk Joinery, United Machinists, Quality Doors, the boats of Patterson Fishing, Dave Gavegan Building and Active Fabrication.

''Everyone's been really supportive and flexible.''

He is building toward having a core clientele of about 10 companies, and looking to expand in hiring another engineer.

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