Growing engineering firm Vertex Group takes next step

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The world is the limit for Hamilton engineering firm Vertex Group as it eyes continuing growth following its acquisition of Auckland-based Brickhouse Technologies.

Key to that growth are the twin pillars of culture and the environment for the firm that has seen the Vertex Engineers brand grown rapidly since it was founded in 2011, making No 3 overall in the Deloitte Fast 50  awards last year and No 1 for engineering.

“People love coming into this culture; that’s a big one for me,” managing director Nick Callagher said.

That includes the staff from water and wastewater solutions firm Brickhouse Technologies, which was also growing and looking to take the next step.

“The Brickhouse people love it, they are so passionate about the industry,” Callagher said.

He and the Vertex leadership team were looking for a company with a track record within councils in order to boost their existing water and wastewater division. The design and process firm offers full turnkey solutions and a strong portfolio of equipment.

The acquisition has enabled the group to clearly drive its two divisions with separate brands, each with its own strong focus, Vertex Engineers in food and beverage and Brickhouse Technologies in water and waste water. Both are now based in Vertex Group’s premises at Barnett Place, north Hamilton, with satellite offices in Auckland, Tauranga and Christchurch.

Callagher says the key is that both Vertex and Brickhouse have strong reputations. “When you are starting in an industry it takes quite a few years to build up and to get known. So what this has enabled us to do is use their reputation and our reputation together, to completely supercharge this company, and it’s so exciting for Waikato, I believe.” Plus, this is where Callagher was born and bred.

It is also important for him that the firm helps environmental change by design so our children and grandchildren can enjoy what we have.

That sees it currently installing 16 UV plants for Hastings District Council and a wastewater treatment plant for Waikeria Prison as well as working with councils in Hamilton and Westland, and with Watercare in Auckland.

It also offers containerised water treatment solutions, building a treatment plant inside a container which can be shipped to site and plumbed in. This can be added to as it’s a modular way of design.

“We can design to meet the drinking water standards. We make sure it’s a standard that can go in the rivers.”

The firm has done some major projects for the dairy industry, which Callagher says accesses much of its environmental equipment from Europe. “We can do that here, we are looking forward to this journey.”

There is plenty more they can offer as well. General manager Eric Wisse says they are talking to the dairy industry about ways to improve its factories’ efficiency starting at the front end.

At the moment effluent is treated to make it acceptable for the environment. “How about you treat the effluent in such a way that you can actually use that either for human consumption or for stockfood or for something that doesn’t actually hit the environment?” he asks.

He says there has been a traditional view that “effluent is what it is and you have to treat it”.

“But we can change it, it could be something different, you can set up a smarter treatment solution.”

“The whole environmental side, there’s big talk about it in New Zealand,” Callagher says. “And we’re in, we want to help sort it out.

“The team are really passionate about it. We really want to grow and put Waikato on the map.”

As for the global ambitions, here as everywhere else in the business, the leadership team are remarkably clear on where they want to go and – just as importantly – on how to get there.

Australia will be the first foothold but the team aren’t rushing it, and once again culture is key to their approach.

“We’re actually looking at a few jobs globally now. It’s something we’re in the middle of strategising,” Callagher says.

“We know a lot of companies try and do it but just race into it and don’t realise there’s actually a culture difference, that people work in a different way. So we actually want to be strategic in the way we do it, and value the way they work.”

Vertex Group have appointed a new general manager for Brickhouse Technologies, Cameron Gilliland, and their expansion sees them in the market to recruit five further staff, bringing them to about 50.

Callagher says they are seeing great doors opening from employing top staff.

“We’ve got some real good talent in here, and talent attracts talent.”

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