Franz Josef firm has plenty on the go
Based at Franz Josef for the past 10 years, Franz Hire and Contracting provides quality plant and machine hire and contracting for West Coast conditions.
The business was established by Ian and Kathy Hartshorne, who moved from Christchurch to Franz Josef in 2005 to open a new motel with partners.
“Franz Hire and Contracting began because of the lack of equipment in the area,” Ian says.
“We bought one little machine to finish the ground works around the motel we’d built, then we bought a bit more. The business steadily grew with the town, until we built our own workshop on Donovan Drive and became full time contracting.”
Ian has been in and on machines for more than 40 years now, and could see there was a gap in the Glacier region for this.
The hire division accounts for about 20% of the company’s business, while for 80% of the time Franz Hire and Contracting is contracting, providing the machines and the operators to complete jobs including earthworks, site works and construction, landscaping, track building, underground infrastructure, aggregates, and processing.
Franz Hire and Contracting is now subcontracting along with other local trades for the expansion of the Rainforest Retreat, which Ian says has expanded year on year.
Franz Hire and Contracting is clearing bush, installing a road, and working in with other contractors to install all the services.
“There are many opportunities here in tourism development for us,” Ian says. “We’ve got a population of about 410 here, and during the season we’ve got more than 3500 tourists staying every night. The whole town revolves around the tourism industry, as it has done for the 12 years we’ve been here.”
Ian and Kathy have taken up some of those tourism development opportunities themselves since they built their motel in 2005.
They set up a camping ground next door to the motel, then established a boat tourism business on Lake Mapourika.
They have recently purchased 30ha at the end of town and will develop that in the coming years, along with a partner.
Franz Hire and Contracting completes a high percentage of the contracting work in the area, which is no mean feat with a team of three permanent local staff who are passionate about delivering the best for the community.
“We want to look after our clientele and offer the best job at the right price,” Ian says. “We work hard trying to get the jobs done on time and to a high standard.
“The customer comes first, and the time off is secondary.” But Ian is looking for a bit of time off, having just celebrated his 55th birthday in August.
“I would love to step back and work on the business rather than in it,” he says. “There are opportunities for the right person to join our team and take a stake in the future business, if they wish.
“We want good quality staff and while we know it’s a bit harder to get someone to move to Franz Josef, if you like the outdoors, fishing and hunting then Franz Josef is a great community to live and work in.”