Celebrating 60 Years Manufacturing in New Zealand

The Sutton Tools team is feeling proud, fortunate and a little bit relieved to be celebrating the 60th Anniversary of manufacturing in New Zealand after a very tough year.

Sutton Tools NZ started out at Kaiapoi in November 1962 as a joint venture between Patience and Nicholson Australia and some local shareholders. The plan was to manufacture a small range of drill bits for the NZ market and take advantage of Government incentives and market protection given to local manufacturers at the time.

Ownership of the business changed in 1994 when the company became part of the Sutton Tools group. Sutton Tools is a family-owned business with more than 100 years of manufacturing history in Australia, many decades of involvement in the cutting tool market in New Zealand and an impressive Engineering culture/DNA. The Sutton family has invested continuously to ensure the on-going success of the Kaiapoi business, secure its place as an important employer and part of the wider Waimakariri community, and maintain its position as a key supplier of high quality, locally manufactured tools.

Until recently the Kaiapoi factory employed over 100 staff with another 20 based in Auckland and a sales team spread throughout the country. What started off as a small drill plant was producing in excess of 70,000 drill bits every day and supplying them to loyal customers throughout the world.

Sadly, at the end of January this year tragedy struck when the factory was totally destroyed by fire. Over the years the business has battled its way through recessions, loss of import protections, increased competition, earthquake damage and all of the other hurdles that businesses confront as they grow and change. However, in the early hours of 31st January many of the local employees were woken and on-site to observe as the fire destroyed their factory and they were left wondering what the future would bring.

Fortunately, the future is looking very bright, the Board and Leadership team made a prompt decision to rebuild and with this support Sutton Tools NZ is making a remarkable comeback. By June this year they had hand built several new machines (in record time) and have already started manufacturing again.

A new site has been purchased just down the road in Rangiora, construction planning is well underway, and the team hope to have the building completed and all the new machinery moved in and fully operational by the latter part of 2023.

General Manager Kevin Donovan says, “To get so many complicated projects completed in such short time frames has required extraordinary teamwork and effort by everyone involved. The can-do culture within the business and the support and loyalty of suppliers and customers has been amazing, we are all very excited that we will soon have one of the most modern, high tech drill manufacturing plants in the world”.

This is not what they were expecting, their 60th Birthday, but they will be making the most of it.

Happy Birthday Sutton Tools New Zealand, may you have many more.