Tauranga's new Marine Precinct has created an opportunity for the two owners of Super Yacht Coatings International to return to the Bay of Plenty, bringing with them a potential 50 to 60 new jobs.
Super Yacht Coatings specialises in the fairing and painting of large luxury vessels. Co-owners Regan Woodward and Mark Hanna say since the company was formed in 2012, it has been involved in the painting of every super yacht built in New Zealand.
The partners are local Bay boys who go way back together. Mr Woodward, originally from Maketu, and Mr Hanna, from Pukehina, have been in the business since the late 1990s and had their own companies before joining forces four years ago.
"We've been painting yachts forever," said Mr Woodward. "We are super confident about the opportunities here, otherwise we wouldn't be doing it."
Super Yacht Coatings is one of the six companies that have so far signed up to buy into stage one of the new Marine Precinct, based on the waterfront adjacent to the Cross Road area in Sulphur Point.
The partners plan to relocate with their families next year when the new facility is scheduled to open.
They see it as an opportunity to extend their business, which specialises in vessels around the 40m mark. Currently, they work in the yards of boatbuilders and on slips in Auckland and Whangarei, although some work is done on the water with scaffolding cantilevered off the vessel.
However, in Tauranga, Super Yacht Coatings will be operating out of a new purpose-built facility at the Marine Precinct, said Mr Hanna, who added that the move represented a "massive commitment financially".
The company has recently come off a high of around 55 staff working on Auckland projects and currently has 23 people working for it.
"We'd expect to have around 50-to-55 people eventually employed in Tauranga," said Mr Hanna.
He noted that, while the new-build side of the larger yachts market had been dropping off, the refit side was climbing.
"This is going to be 100 per cent refit for us."
However, Mr Woodward noted that the company would now have the facilities to project manage a new build itself, by drawing on its contacts across the industry.
"We might get the opportunity to build a super yacht down here, and we'll take it," he said.
Marine Precinct project director Phil Wardale said he welcomed the relocation of Super Yacht Coatings, which was expected to help attract marine business to the new site.
Tony Arnold, chairman of the Tauranga Marine Industry Association and long-time manager of Tauranga Bridge Marina, said the new precinct would help to attract new business to the region. "It's good for the industry to have more activity," he said.
* The Marine Precinct's advantages include:
* A 6200sq m hardstand.
* A 350 tonne vessel hoist, New Zealand's largest.
* The hardstand and hoist will be operated by a Tauranga City Council entity.