It was no-brainer for Waikato-based business Hansa to relocate and build at a brand new site in Hamilton’s Northgate Business Park.
Hansa products, high quality chipping and shredding equipment, have been in high demand for more than 40 years. The company has sold more than 25,000 chippers in New Zealand and Australia and it wanted to keep up with its current production – but also prepare for future demands.
The new space officially opened on March 1, and accommodates the Hansa team of around 30. It includes a larger factory with a more efficient production system for single piece flow, office space, display showroom and storage space.
The production factory has the latest manufacturing technologies including robot welding, powder-coating facilities and solidworks 3D design.
They manufacture a range of wood chippers for home gardeners, lifestyle blocks, orchards, hire centres and commercial arborists in engine-powered or PTO driven configurations. Their number one design priority is efficient product performance to make the experience of using each machine enjoyable. They also meet or exceed the market’s regulatory safety standards and the machines are designed for ease of servicing and maintenance.
It’s a far cry from its humble beginnings on Ryburn Rd, in a honey shed in Ohaupo.
Hansa managing director Martin Vogel believes the building has really invested into the long-term future of Hansa.
“While the land is much bigger than what we need now, we will be able to expand and double the production space we have now in the future,” he said.
“The new building has allowed us to start from scratch and design a new layout that makes sense for manufacturing and production, as opposed to previous premises of adding processes to production and not having a smooth flow.”
The new building was built by Livingstone Builders, a well-known and trusted local Waikato business that started more than 70 years ago. The design was undertaken by Stiles and Hooker architects and engineers.
“We’re really happy with the result and the building is of a high-quality finish,” Martin said. “And at the end of the day it’s really going to set us up for the future.”
There are also subtle elements to the new building – the four meeting rooms are named after their four locations over the years, starting with Ryburn (Road), Grasslands (Place), Tawn (Place) and the current new location, Te Kowhai (East Road).
Vogel’s father, Manfred Vogel, a design engineer, started making chippers from his mother-in-law’s honey shed in Ohaupo in the 1980s. Martin said he saw the opportunity in the market and on a shoestring budget, he began making them in his own time, and never looked back. In 2004, Martin joined the family business and it was just the two of them for a while, but Martin has since taken it from strength to strength.
“When I joined the company we were able to leverage off the reputation that my father had built 20 years before.” Martin said
Their products have evolved over the years and there is now an extensive range of chippers suited for commercial and lifestyle purposes.
“As customers place value on sustainability, our product is increasingly fitting their lifestyle needs. So they’re not dumping the green waste because it’s costly, but they’re also not burning it, and instead mulch gets put back into the gardens.
“We have continued to innovate our commercial range of products to meet the needs of arborists and larger chipper users. Our new building has a dedicated R & D space to allow this innovation to thrive.”
The name, Hansa, was created by Martin’s father, Manfred Vogel, who is originally from Germany. He moved here in 1977 and when he started the business he didn’t want to use the family name, so it was Martin’s mother who came up with the name, “Hansa”. They wanted to include some of his European heritage and Hansa is an old trading name from the Viking times and is common especially in Northern Germany.
Martin said the company has taken on a lot in the last 12 months, including Australia distribution and looking at the European market.
They’ve taken back over their distribution in Australia, which is their biggest export with 60 percent of their products ending up across the ditch, and recently taken on a business development manager for Europe, who is based in Germany.
Their overall strategy is to take their world-class products to the world.
“For us, it’s about breaking and expanding into those new export markets and we’ve put a lot of energy into meeting the market regulations and adapting our product to fit the need of our international customers.”