Inland port will smooth freight links
Detailed planning and project management have been the keys to success for Waikato-based GST Construction on the inland port project nearing completion in Tokoroa, says GST Construction owner Grant Tidmarsh.
The company has been involved from the outset of the project, which has spanned several years.
Giving client RJ Lincoln Logistics a detailed budget at the outset was another important aspect of the service his company provided, says Grant.
“We always aim to be involved at the outset of projects as this is when we can offer valuable advice from both an engineering and building perspective as well as detailed budgets.
“This enabled the client to know exactly how much the project would cost before commencement,” he says.
“And we’ve stuck to that budget as well as time frames throughout the project.”
The Road Rail Terminal is a public privatepartnership between RJ Lincoln, South Waikato District Council, KiwiRail, and the New Zealand Transport Agency.
It is expected to handle 5000-8000 containers a year once it is fully running and significantly reduce congestion on nearby roads.
Grant says the central location, with direct links to the Port of Tauranga, north to Auckland through Hamilton, will make transport logistics much more efficient in the North Island.
The project includes over 20,000 square metres of buildings set on 4ha of land allowing containers to be de-vanned under cover then transported to adjacent warehouse facilities. GST Construction has already completed the headquarters office building and is working on the final 5000 square metres of warehouse buildings on the site.
The terminal is expected to be completed by late August/early September and Grant says it has progressed smoothly despite the large nature of the project. “If a project is planned correctly there should be no major issues,” says Grant, an engineer by trade, who offers experience in all facets of the concrete and steel construction the company specialises in.
“We’ve had an extremely good team on this project and that has been another vital factor.” He says this is due to GST Construction’s longevity in the industry and focus on looking after employees and subtrades, something that has stood the company in good stead now that there is huge demand for construction workers nationwide.
GST Construction has a professional team from which Grant selects those team members that have the skills and expertise for each aspect of the construction. “I’ve picked the best group of people in the industry. Between us we create a team for each project that offers a lot of experience,” he says.
Grant started GST Construction in 2004 to focus on steel and concrete construction for the rural and commercial industries.
The firm attends the initial meeting at the start of the project then facilitates the design process for the client sharing valuable information and advice from the company’s vast building experience.
“Clients want as many square metres for their budget as they can. I know how to achieve maximum bang for buck for the client without compromising quality,” says Grant.
“I am aware of potential pitfalls and how to present all the options to the client so they can make an informed decision.”
Grant then facilitates and project manages the build process ensuring everything runs smoothly and any issues are dealt with and resolved as quickly as possible. Grant’s approach is endorsed by Waikato Steel Fabricators (WSF), which worked on the new RJ Lincoln office as part of the Tokoroa project.
WSF’s Petrus Barkowitz says it was a privilege to be involved with GST Construction on the project. “Grant is meticulous with his planning. He spent many hours in the early stages of the project at our offices in Hamilton going over the whole process from design right through to approved shop drawings,” says Petrus.
“There are so many benefits for all parties later when the structure is erected. The process is streamlined, errors eliminated and the client gets a good product and service.”
Grant says GST Construction takes pride in the fact that it often works with long term clients.
“Time equals money for my clients. Honesty and integrity is important. I treat every project as if it I was building it for myself,” he says.
“Most of the business I do could just about be done on a handshake – that’s the kind of rapport and trust we’ve built with clients over the years,” Grant says.
Coming from an engineering background Grant says is a distinct advantage. “I know how structures work and spend a lot of time with steel fabricators to ensure the steel structure is as accurate as possible so
unnecessary on site engineering and welding is not required.
“It’s about making sure everything is manufactured correctly and accurately so that when it arrives to the site the project can run smoothly.”
GST Construction is about to start work on a 7500 square metre warehouse development located near to the inland port project.
The Tokoroa Road Rail Terminal project has been a long time in the making and has involved the cooperation of a number of players including Council, KiwiRail, NZTA, the Port of Tauranga and Tokoroa-based transport and bulk warehousing company RJ Lincoln.
RJ Lincoln general manager Gavin O’Donoghue says a few years ago the company was regularly experiencing worsening delays at the end of the day when trying to pick up loads from distribution businesses around the Port of Tauranga often meaning trucks were unable to get loaded.
This meant poor truck efficiencies and inability to meet customer expectations.
The company started looking for better ways to do things and began moving freight by rail to a rail-siding at Kinleith and bringing the containers into town to devan and distribute North Island wide from there.
Gavin says that this allowed the concept and viability of the option to be tested. Quickly key customers were lining up and from there the idea for the larger hub really got traction.
The aim was to create better efficiencies and deliver customers a better service and the need for a dedicated rail siding in Tokoroa was obvious. With its central location in the North Island, local business operators and local council saw the opportunity.
But with private local funding it was hard to make the figures stack up. Enter the South Waikato District Council that had identified a focus on economic development to move the district forward, earmarking its capital investment fund for economic and community development.
The Road Rail Terminal project has included developing a rail siding, hardstand, local road connection and a container loading and unloading facility that could be used by existing and new businesses.
The project cost $2.5 million to develop and this was the Council contribution.
It also required significant capital investment from RJ Lincoln including $400,000 (land donation), $500,000 (equipment) and a further $14 million for 14,800sqm of warehousing, site development and site office.
The rail siding devel opment and rail switch point equipment was funded by Council and developed with technical oversight from KiwiRail.
“If Council hadn’t built the rail siding and hard stand, we would not have been able to invest in the construction distribution sheds and loading equipment.
“And this growing logistic and distribution hub would not be happening,” adds Gavin.
South Waikato District Council chief executive Craig Hobbs says improving the efficiency of freight supply chains is a key aim set out in the Government Policy Statement on Land Transport Funding.
“Freight efficiency is key to ensuring our infrastructure responds to the needs of productive industry, especially those that will grow New Zealand’s exports such as dairy, forestry and engineering,” says Craig. “The Tokoroa Road Rail Terminal was an ideal solution.”
He says that the benefits of the Tokoroa Road Rail Terminal are multi-faceted: truck movement on the state highways has dramatically reduced and this has lowered congestion, decreased wear and tear on the roading network, improved safety and reduced the need for additional truck drivers that are in short supply.
The social impact of the development includes employment opportunities across a wide skill range from logistics management roles to the much needed labourers for container handling and processing.
Craig says that many of these new employment roles were sourced locally in the South Waikato.
Aligned to this is the desire by local businesses to employ local people, providing for employment and career advancement.
“Developments of this magnitude need forwardthinking, innovative minds to align and that is what happened when RJ Lincoln and Council put their heads together and saw the long-term possibilities,” says Mayor Jenny Shattock. The hope is that businesses will be attracted
to set up shop in Tokoroa and further add to the economic growth of the region. There are already significant businesses such as Blue Pacific Minerals, Waratah, Carter Holt and Oji Fibre Solutions based in the region.
“If a business wanted to set up here the supply chain is already here and the road rail intermodal
option is already established,” says Gavin. “In the last six months we have had a lot of enquiry and visits from businesses who would never have considered moving here before but it’s definitely on their radar now.
“The goal is to attract more businesses. The hub is definitely creating jobs.”