Oceania Marine has ''let go'' of its Hewlett St boat interiors and manufacturing operation to concentrate on the company's other operations.

Jim Loynes, marketing manager, said a recent reduction of services and staff at the Hewlett St yard, ''in no way signals the demise of the company [Oceania Marine]''.

Rather than continuing to divert resources into Oceania Interiors, which took over the former SMI (Specialist Marine Interiors) operations in 2015, a decision was made to
concentrate on haul-out operations, he said.

''We have unfortunately had to cease our new build and manufacturing operation at Hewlett St, but staff there have been given new contracts by another marine industry operator. We will still offer interior refit options to clients and Oceania Interiors is still operational.''

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The company had made an effort to find other jobs for people laid-off who were not rehired by new operators who have taken over at the facility, Loynes said.

That company has a base elsewhere in New Zealand. Loynes said having a firm expanding its operations into Whangārei was a good outcome.

Oceania Marine's marketing manager Jim Loynes.
Oceania Marine's marketing manager Jim Loynes.

In November last year Oceania Marine received a $4.8 million loan from the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) to buy a 560-tonne capability travel lift to hoist super yachts and other big boats out of the water at the Port Rd (South Port) yard.

Loynes said there was scuttlebutt about because of the interiors, new build and manufacturing business going so soon after the multi-million dollar loan to help expand the greater Oceania business. However, Oceania Interiors would still be operating.

Part of the interiors capability would now be shifted into Oceania Marine's other two premises.

Oceania Marine offers haul-out, lift-out, hardstand, storage, workshop, refit and crew facilities at its two large yards in Fraser St and the former Tenex yard in Port Rd, known as the north and south shipyards.

Owner Martin Gleeson started the company in 2012 in the wake of New Zealand Yacht's (NZY) demise.

NZY had been set up 11 years earlier by wealthy ex-pat Allen Jones to build luxury and mega yachts, launches and commercial boats.

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Jones recruited a large workforce and built a huge boatshed in Fraser St, opened by then Prime Minister Helen Clark. Despite the fanfare and promises, the business failed to take off and the skilled workforce slipped away.

NZY was downsized as a maintenance and refit specialist but, in the world-wide recession, the final blow was losing a major contract that would have kept the yard going.

Gleeson established two successful businesses, Oceania Marine Ltd and Oceania Marine Coatings.

The company then picked up the premises and work of its troubled sub-contracting company SMI and its 20 staff in 2015.

''It was a good fit. We were looking for more new-build work but that has not materialised,'' Loynes said.

''Closing that operation was not a decision taken lightly . .. but we are first and foremost a refit and repair yard.''

Oceania Marine is already taking bookings from the international boating world for the new 560-tonne lift schedule. Once the specifications are worked out the lift will be ordered and expected to arrive 10 months later for assembly on-site.

Criteria for the PGF loan included job creation potential, and for every super-yacht that comes into the yard, around 10 people will be hired to work on it. The company hopes to take on around 15 apprentices over the next few years.

* Northland businesses come in all shapes and sizes. If you have a business story to share please contact Lindy Laird, Ph (09) 470 2801, or email lindy.laird@northernadvocate.co.nzh