Firenzo woodfires, designed and built in Napier, are being sold successfully in the UK.

There are 48 UK retail outlets actively displaying and selling Firenzo woodfires, serviced by a full-time UK manager running the New Zealand-owned Firenzo UK distribution business.

The Onekawa company is crediting lean manufacturing principles for its export success. It is a member of the Hawke's Bay lean cluster set up through NZ Trade & Enterprise.

Firenzo's staff worked with local company Smarter, Better, Faster under a High Performance Work Initiative offered by Business Hawke's Bay in partnership with Hastings District Council and co-funded through the Government's Callaghan Innovation.


"One of the many benefits of going lean is having a much better understanding of workflow and the impact of stock turnover and control," Firenzo director Gary Edwards said. "The work we have done getting leaner and smarter has meant we have had the funds to expand abroad."

He said that through the cluster he was aware Firenzo had the A-step and B-step basics of lean but were "crap at the C" - the implementation of systems and processes to maintain, measure and grow gains. Firenzo was previously housed in three buildings but, thanks to lean, downsized its footprint to one.

One of the previous buildings was just for inventory. Today, the stock necessary for production sits comfortably within reach. In the past, some welding work was contracted out but it now easily fits within Firenzo's production schedule.

The increase in factory output was achieved without the need for more staff but ultimately he will grow his team.

"It's about working smarter and becoming more competitive, and that ultimately leads to more jobs. We've got a five-year plan for the UK market and we're currently tracking ahead of where we expected to be."

Each production worker has their own work station that is mobile. "You soon hear about it if someone takes another guy's gear. There's a sense of real ownership," Mr Edwards said.

The factory has a continuous three-day production process: day one sees the base components assembled, day two the specific model components added, and day three the finishing features applied and fires wrapped and dispatched.

Production manager Simon Thacker said gone were the days of "busy fools". Staff would keep themselves busy creating stock items irrespective of the need " there was a decade's worth of one fire component currently sitting on the shelf.

"I've told them that if anyone makes another one I'll beat them with it."