SCNZ: The Past 10 years

Shaping a Successful Industry Against a Turbulent Background

As part of a focus on building links and interacting with other international steel construction societies, SCNZ supported HERA in hosting the 2007 Pacific Steel Structures Conference in Wairakei with delegates from North America and Asia.

In 2007, long-term substantial investment by New Zealand fabricators in new plants and technology to increase capacity and improve productivity, began to come to fruition with the opening of Grayson Engineering’s new fabrication facility in Auckland. Over the next eight years, another five fabricators around New Zealand all unveiled new state-of-the-art workshops. This commitment to investment in new fabrication technologies and workshops has significantly boosted the industry’s capacity, efficiency and quality; doubling the capacity of New Zealand’s steel construction sector in just over a decade.

After 25 years with the HERA Structural Division, in 2008 Charles Clifton moved to the University of Auckland and Stephen Hicks, former Manager of the UK Steel Construction Institute’s Building Division, became the new HERA Structural Systems Manager.

By 2009 the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) had hit the industry hard, forcing SCNZ and many of its members to trim their workforce. The SCNZ Executive Council took the view that in a downturn greater resource and activity is required. An increase in the SCNZ levy from $10 to $15 tonne was proposed and approved by industry to bring the organisation back to a sound financial footing.

Alistair Fussell took over as SCNZ Manager in 2009 when Clark Hyland resigned to build a specialist consulting engineering practice.

On 22 February 2011 the devastating Christchurch earthquake struck, causing widespread damage to buildings and infrastructure. The impressive performance of steel buildings and the opportunities arising from the rebuild proved to be significant game changers for the steel market.

The visionary leadership of the SCNZ Executive Council paid dividends, as the increased levy meant that when the devastating Canterbury earthquakes occurred, SCNZ was already backed by strong resources with which to promote structural steel solutions for the rebuild. For the next couple of years Christchurch became the centre of SCNZ’s promotional activities.

The long-awaited increase in construction activity in Christchurch was good news in 2012 as the industry continued to struggle in the wake of the recession.

The collapse of leading property and construction company, Mainzeal, in 2013 – combined with the rise of imported fabricated structural steel – led to a broadening of SCNZ activities with greater emphasis on facilitating commercial excellence and promoting the benefits of using local fabricators.

In the face of increased competition from imported fabricated steelwork, the retention of business came an industry focus. SCNZ responded by making reliable industry capacity data readily available; promoting the benefits of using the local industry and adopting a government advocacy role. As part of this role, SCNZ lobbied the government to ensure that its agencies meet their procurement obligations under the five principles of government procurement introduced in 2013.

A major milestone was reached in 2013, as structural steel gained a dominant share of the new multi-storey building market in Christchurch, thanks to the excellent performance of steel buildings during the earthquakes and the many preliminary designs undertaken during the rebuild by SCNZ for Consulting Engineering companies not familiar with designing multi-level steel buildings.