Tile maker has global ambitions

By David Porter

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EXPORT FOCUS: Pearce Group general manager Lars Thiel-Lardon (right) with his design manager Nathan Candy, in Katikati.
PHOTO/JOHN BORREN
EXPORT FOCUS: Pearce Group general manager Lars Thiel-Lardon (right) with his design manager Nathan Candy, in Katikati. PHOTO/JOHN BORREN

Our expertise has formed strong relationships with our customers over many years.

Lars Thiel-Lardon Katikati-based sister companies Apex Tile Manufacturing and International Roofing have adopted a new focus since general manager Lars Thiel-Lardon took up his role, following the acquisition of the companies by Kiwi Steel two years ago.

Mr Thiel-Lardon has boosted the Apex steel tile-making capabilities and increased the company's focus on export markets, while repositioning International Roofing's core business of creating turnkey steel tile-making plants for export.

The companies, along with Pearce Tool & Manufacturing, which makes brackets and fittings for the construction industry, were now gathered under the Pearce Group umbrella.

"Our tile marketing is doing very well and tiles are the major source of the group's revenue," said Mr Thiel-Lardon.

"Due to the strong relationship to our steel supplying parent company, we decided to increase our production capability for premium stone-coated metal tiles to 2.5 million tiles a year."

Mr Thiel-Lardon said he saw great potential for the Apex products in Africa and was currently finalising agreements with companies in South Africa, Nigeria and East Africa, to market and distribute tiles across the continent.

Apex is also negotiating agreements with two large tile distributors in the USA, and would then begin focusing on the European market, he said.

"Our biggest competitor in New Zealand and especially in the USA, is Fletchers with its Decra line," he said. "I'm fully aware we have a long way to go, but what I'm trying to do is set up a global tile business like Fletchers."

Mr Thiel-Lardon said that rather than International Roofing simply supplying the turnkey tile-making plants, the company had developed a new licensing model which would give it greater control over product quality, while taking on more responsibility for after sales service and maintenance.

"We have supplied turnkey plants to a number of clients overseas, including in Canada, USA, Jamaica, Honduras, South Africa, Nigeria and Belgium, as well as New Zealand," said Mr Thiel-Lardon.

"Our expertise has formed strong relationships with our customers over many years and most of them have come back for further help or new plants and tools."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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