The America’s Cup took pride of place at Ullrich Aluminium’s opening of its Hamilton national distribution centre in September.
The event saw Tom Waterhouse and Sean Regan of Emirates Team New Zealand tell a large audience, including about 50 from Australia, about their successful Bermuda campaign and touch on upcoming developments at the Viaduct in preparation for their 2021 defence.
Ullrich have been long-term Cup sponsors, with many in the audience lining up to have their photograph taken with Sean and the Auld Mug.
CEO Gilbert Ullrich said over the years Hamilton had become a strong aluminium manufacturing base, and acknowledged the other two aluminium companies in the city.
“This is a significant day for our company. As you are aware we have had a major upgrade in our plant here and a major extension.
“Waikato has been kind to us and we would like to say thank you to it.
“Even though the head of the company may be in Auckland, the heart of the company, I think, is here in Waikato.”
He also referred to the 20 percent tariff imposed by the US on New Zealand aluminium, saying it had slowed business.
“We’ve been very lucky as an aluminium company to get into some of the key businesses that we’re in because it’s going to be a pretty bumpy ride economically the way things are going.”
However, he said despite publicity about bad economic times in New Zealand, it was a fallacy that the economy was “falling apart”.
“That doesn’t hold much water with me,” he said.
The opening at the Maui St plant included a walkthrough of the manufacturing plant before Gilbert unveiled a plaque for the new Ernest E Ullrich National Distribution Centre, named after Gilbert’s brother.
Ernest accepted the honour while quipping that it should have been a gold plaque, marking his 57 years with the company.
It was the fifth expansion at the site in Ullrich’s 32-year Hamilton history.
Chairman Ray Burgess said from a small start in a converted garage in South Auckland 58 years ago, the company has grown to encompass 46 trans-Tasman facilities and has about 740 employees – “a true trans-Tasman operation”.
“We are proud to call Hamilton the engine room of our New Zealand operations.”