Of the twelve awards recently presented at the Northland Forestry Awards, two were presented to Waipu-based timber manufacturer Northpine. The first recognised Northpine as Training Company of the Year (sponsored by Competenz); the second accolade went to Northpine’s General Manager, Bruce Larsen, as winner of the Wood Processing Excellence Award (sponsored by Carter Holt Harvey Wood Products).
The inclusion of wood processing into the NFAs is to recognise the integral part this sector plays in the forestry industry; it's the end of the supply chain, but a very important part because it adds value to the raw material.
For Bruce Larsen, one key factor in Northpine’s management is development of a strong, positive culture that values all the people within the company, and providing them with every opportunity to improve their skills and ensure they continue to grow. "The company does not have the capital to put into high tech machinery so we put it into staff development and know that we have the best people," says Bruce . "And with staff inclusion, comes a lot of pride which then reflects in better productivity and better quality."
Larsen has been with Northpine for 17 years and was an original shareholder. He did not always work in a fulltime role, but as the company grew (production has increased 300% and staff has grown from 20 to 55), he leads from the front, living and breathing the job.
Northpine has not been without its hardships; in the downturn following the GFC the company was a whisker away from foreclosure.
"It basically came down to the fact that our capital project expansion was badly timed and that investment came on the back of the worldwide financial crisis," explains Larsen. "Fortunately, the major creditors compromised to support the company as they could see the potential Northpine had and wanted to see us succeed."
A resurgence in the export market was the company's saviour and now the New Zealand housing market has gone crazy now; but that in turn puts other pressures on and tests Northpine’s production output systems and quality of products, which is so different from ten years ago.
“External recognition of Northpine through the NFAs will give the company another lift and another positive outlook to the market and stakeholders," says Larsen. "It was great to have the opportunity to sponsor an award category, but doubly humbling to receive two awards on the night. It reminds us that we’re doing a lot of things well, but there’s still plenty of room for improvement here.”