A $400 million Tauranga development, expected to be a key factor in solving the country's Gib plasterboard shortage once it opens, will create dozens of jobs for locals.
Fletchers this week confirmed only about 30 per cent of Auckland Winstone Wallboard staff were relocating to its state-of-the-art, supersized plasterboard facility at Tauriko Business Estate - opening up about 70 jobs locals can apply for.
Fletchers said ''significant work'' was under way with about 70 Auckland employees who did not want to move when that plant closed, on redeployment opportunities or jobs outside the business group.
The Tauranga development was ahead of schedule, on budget, and expected to bring significant economic spinoffs to the city.
Asked what impact the factory would have on the current Gib plasterboard shortage Fletcher Building, Building Products chief executive Hamish McBeath said: ''When fully commissioned this new plant will have enough capacity available to handle the current demand and will do this alongside the Christchurch plant".
McBeath said they had about 100 roles for the Tauriko factory.
''We expect that approximately up to 30 per cent of those staff will be staff relocating from Auckland.''
At the moment there was about 100 staff in Auckland and he said Winstone Wallboards had been working with them ''for some time to determine what works best for them individually once the Auckland plant is decommissioned and Tauriko is operational''.
That included supporting people to relocate to Tauranga, helping them get familiar with the local area, connecting them with real estate agents, and advice on how their spouse or partner could find work in the area.
Those not relocating were getting help to find redeployment opportunities within the Fletcher Building Group or if they preferred, support to find other work.
''There is significant work under way [and has been in place for a very long time] to support our team through this transition, with a particular focus on creating individual pathways based on what the employee wants to do.''
It had already started to advertise Tauranga roles on the company website.
''Recruitment processes have started and local engagement has been good. The majority of production roles will start to be filled in the latter part of this year.''
According to its website, it was taking expressions of interest for a production manager, sites services manager, maintenance planner, inventory team leader, technical writer, electrician, despatch team leader and operators, project engineer, production team leader, maintainer operator, manufacturing and distribution support officer.
The current construction site was ''ever-changing'' with up to 150 people on-site at various times, McBeath said.
''Tauriko now [during construction], and once completed will provide significant economic benefit to the region by supporting local Bay of Plenty contractors during the build, as well as creating around 100 new permanent jobs in Tauranga once completed.''
The plant build was progressing well and had moved forward to mid to late June 2023 from its original plan of September, he said.
McBeath acknowledged the current supply environment was challenging but ''this project is still very much on time and on budget to date''.
New plant equipment coming through Port of Tauranga in about 300 containers from China, Mexico, Europe and Canada had started to arrive.
''Equipment is arriving weekly as per plan. Logistics has proven challenging, but we have worked with our international partners to ship early where possible, and we have stored equipment ahead of the original programme.
''Equipment installation is well under way.''
The main features of the plant were based on increased capacity, improved safety, and lower environmental impacts. These included the recycling of waste plasterboard and water from the process, he said.
When completed the plant would operate 24 hours a day, five days a week on two 12-hour shifts but ''will ramp up''.
Priority One chief executive Nigel Tutt said it had worked alongside Fletchers from very early on in the project.
''We have been thoroughly impressed by their professionalism and approach – they will be a great addition to our business community. I'm sure they will be an excellent employer staff that they will need on-site.''
Tutt said he expected to see more developments like this due to the strength of the Port of Tauranga and ''our location in the Golden Triangle''.
''Tauriko Business Estate is an ideal home for businesses like this due to its location and ability to accommodate a variety of developments.''
Tauriko Business Estate director Bryce Donne said having Winstone Wallboards on-site was ''very significant''.
''Other businesses understand the time and effort Winstone's apply to site selection and analysis of supply chain efficiencies.''
Demand was increasing for larger land parcels and from bigger organisations.
''Although Tauriko Business Estate continues to target itself as a great location for all good businesses to flourish.''
Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Matt Cowley said the scale and complexity of the site and operations attract new expertise that can only benefit our wider economy.
''Gib is a critical part of our red-hot construction pipeline, so it's great to have a major factory located in the region. Fletcher Building is New Zealand's largest construction player, so their presence in Tauranga is great for the future.''
Given its location in Tauriko, Cowley said he believed the job opportunities could also attract people from Rotorua and the Waikato.
Classic Builders national operations manager Rowan McKeany said the Winstone Wallboards plant would increase the company's capacity and volume to deliver more product on a national scale.
''It's great for Tauranga not only because of the jobs it has already created during the build phase, but the ongoing employment it will bring when it is completed.''
McKeany said Winstone Wallboards' relocation from Auckland ''is a feather in our cap''.
Winstone Wallboards Tauriko site
* A gigantic 63,000sq m factory the size of about seven rugby fields
* Will be more than double the size of its Auckland facility
* For manufacturing, the plant would run off a 24-hour, five days a week basis and 12-hour shifts between three shifts. This will ramp up over time
* Recruitment for roles at the plant were happening now.