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Wingate auto manufacturer is driven by passion


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Wingate auto manufacturer is driven by passion

Passion was the main them of this month's Technology Valley Meetup. Passion for being the best you can be. Passion for advanced technology. And passion for delighting your customers.

Our guest was Martin Simpson, General Manager of Fraser Engineering Group, a Lower Hutt company that is reinventing fire-fighting equipment. Their Wingate facility is a full-featured auto manufacturing plant. They have about $20 million invested in state-of-the-art computer-aided manufacturing equipment including CNC machining centres, CNC sheet metal working equipment, laser cutting and etching, 3D printing, electroplating, and powder-coating. In 2013 the company sold about a hundred fully-assembled fire engines in New Zealand, Australia, and other export markets. Typically they have 20 to 30 fire engines under construction in their factory. Fraser Engineering has all the computer-aided management and design tools you’d expect to find in any small automotive manufacturing company, such as 3D modelling software and a fully integrated manufacturing requirements and capacity planning system.

I was nervous about how things would work out. Martin doesn't follow the academic rule-book. He'll subcontract processes when it make sense, but most of Fraser's machining, fabrication, assembly, and finishing is done in-house. The company philosophy is to stay ahead of the competition through rapid, on-going development. Fraser's do have some patents, but like many manufacturers they know that if someone copies one of their products, the joke is usually on the copier. By the time the copy hits the market, Fraser’s will have moved on. The copy will be obsolete.

Fraser Engineering does not follow the academically-anointed methods of financing growth. Their rapid growth has been financed out of profits. Fraser Engineering remains a closely-held private company.

As soon as Martin started talking, the audience was captivated by his boundless optimism and his obvious passion for technology. The conversation took on a life of its own. The more we listened, the more we learned about the real potential of niche market manufacturing. Martin Simpson has a very clear vision of the opportunities ahead of his company, and he won't let anything stand in its way. His marketing strategy follows a well-proven formula: Quality, Delivery, Service, Price. "It's about reducing the total cost of ownership," of fire engines, he told us.

I was especially impressed by what Martin said about his staff. He told us about the brilliant young designers who sometimes knock on his door looking for work. And his eyes lit up when he said he hired some of them.

Fraser Engineering is exactly the kind of business Technology Valley wants to encourage. They are creating wealth in our community, by creating wealth in other communities around the world.

Our two-monthly Meetups are designed to encourage entrepreneurs and technologists to share ideas and information. Last Tuesday, Martin Simpson set the standard: Thanks Martin. It was fantastic.

Kevin Cudby is a Wellington-based Freelance Writer and Parametric Modelling Consultant who loves writing about cool new technology. Email him to discuss your requirements: hello {a}

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