Southland firm at the cutting edge

Southland firm at the cutting edge
Niagara cuts 115,000 cubic metres of pinus radiata each year, approximately half of that output is finished through the company’s three plants.

At the cutting edge – Southland based manufacturer and distributor of quality timber building products, Niagara, has a strong focus on producing environmentally sustainable quality timber products.
Originally founded in the small Catlins settlement of Niagara, the business was purchased by the Richardson family 64 years ago and is currently owned and operated by father and son, Ken and Ross Richardson.
Moving to its Kennington site on the outskirts of Invercargill 50 years ago, Niagara has established itself as a successful operation with sawmill, drying and hi-tech manufacturing plant in Southland, along with further processing and distribution centres in Ashburton and Cambridge.
Cutting some 115,000 cubic metres of pinus radiata each year, approximately half of that output is finished through the company’s three plants, producing high-end products such as weatherboards, fascia, laminated posts, beams, moldings, architraves and window reveals.
Group Sales and Marketing Manager Jamie Barton says the ability to finish goods over multiple sites provides Niagara with exceptional manufacturing flexibility.
“We understand the importance of partnerships with our customers and have the experience to deliver.
“About half of the products manufactured are sold domestically through distributors such as Placemakers, Mitre 10 and ITM. The balance is exported as a high-value manufactured products to Australia and America.”
Every month 30 containers are shipped off to America and Australia, full of products like laminated posts and fascia—all treated, primed and beautifully packaged up.
The remaining half that goes through Niagara’s sawmill is exported to South East Asia as sawn timber and primarily used as packaging or in furniture manufacture.
“From a manufacturing point of view everything we do at Niagara is about producing quality environmentally sustainable timber products,” explains Jamie.
“It starts with the log, which is 100% sustainably grown NZ Radiata Pine. We maximise recovery using cutting edge technollgy and utilise 100% of log fibre by producing a variety of products.”
High grade timber is finger jointed into quality engineered timber products such as weatherboards and laminated posts.
Low grade timber is exported and used for furniture construction and reusable timber packaging Sawdust and bark blended with peat to produce quality products for the horticulture and landscaping industries.
“Green sawdust is used as a carbon neutral fuel source to provide energy for the sawmill—for example all of our kilns at the mill are run on green sawdust. Dry shavings are used to manufacture environmentally sustainable pellet and briquette fuel for residential homes, and timber waste is processed into chip to provide local industry with a carbon neutral alternative to coal for their boilers.”
Jamie says a move in things like exchange rates or log pricing impacts on returns and leaves exporters of sawn timber vulnerable, whereas a higher value finished product increases the value of the product.
Niagara completed development of its new 8775sqm building on its Kennington site, housing state-of-the-art European wood timber processing technology in March of this year.
Replacing an older plant, the new operation provides Niagara with advanced technology and significantly greater capacity to increase its finished products.
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