Kirk Roberts Consulting Engineers is benefiting from increasing demand that has led the firm to expand into larger premises in Tauranga and will see it open a new office in Auckland next week.

The firm was started in Christchurch seven years ago, with director Damian McMillan opening the Tauranga office six months later. The firm now has 55 staff nationally, including 14 in Tauranga, and was recently named a finalist in the Building and Construction category of the 2014 New Zealand Engineering Excellence Awards.

"We knew we didn't want growth at the expense of our existing service delivery and investment in local clients and local projects," said Mr McMillan.

"At the same we knew that scaling up was a prerequisite to some of the larger innovative projects that we have become known for. On that basis, opening an Auckland office was essential.

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"It's all about diversification in terms of markets and protecting yourself by looking after your national clients."

Michael Newcombe has been recruited as general manager for the Auckland office, and was a good fit for the firm, said Mr McMillan.

"He grew up in Te Puke and if anything his appointment serves to strengthen our ties with the Bay of Plenty and Waikato."

Dr Newcombe said the firm had an aggressive growth plan and hoped to build the Auckland office from five to 20 staff within two years.

"We see definite opportunities in the Auckland market with what we can bring to the table," he said. "We're going to focus on those areas and build on existing relationships that the team in Tauranga has developed."

Dr Newcombe is a specialist in multi-storey timber design.

"One of our first projects in Auckland is going to be a seven-storey apartment building that is going to really push the limits of what has been done in New Zealand. I am really passionate about this."

The building is being developed by Ockham Investments, which held a competition for the design, won by Stephen Smith of S3 architects.

"Stephen invited me to work on the structural engineering because of my background," he said. The building will have five storeys of timber construction on top of two storeys of reinforced concrete.

"This could be a major thing in New Zealand to encourage timber use," said Dr Newcombe.

The company

Kirk Roberts provides structural, civil, fire, and geotechnical engineering and employs close to 55 staff in Tauranga, Christchurch and Auckland. The company is focused on commercial/multi-storey buildings, high-end residential and agricultural/industrial with a focus on large storage facilities for clients such as Fonterra, Synlait and Meadow Mushrooms.