Pro Features

Fresh fields approach for local engineering firm

Back in 1998, engineer Scott Field had just returned to Hawke’s Bay from the UK. Having worked for engineering firms in England and Brazil, he was keen to carve a niche in a rapidly expanding local economy. Setting up in Brookvale Road, Havelock North, with a 120-metre2 workshop, Scott asked brother- in-law and engineer Blair Hislop to join him.

Blair had also spent time in Europe, in the automated technology sector, and had returned to the Bay in 2002. Moving location four times over the years to accommodate the growing business, and now occupying 400 metres2 in the Whakatu Industrial Park, Fieldsway has a reputation for harnessing technology and innovating.

They have a discerning customer base requiring products ranging from high-end residential and commercial customised stainless steel bench tops, fixtures and fittings, to solar-powered entrance gates to heavy commercial irrigation systems.

In the last two years, the business has scaled new heights as both Scott and Blair joined The Icehouse Owner Operator Programme, giving them the time and motivation to develop role clarity, implement new processes, build capability in their highly specialised team, and that all-important freedom to work on the business, rather than in it.

Scott and Blair joined the Owner Operator Programme in the summer of 2016. Business had been going well but with several new projects in the pipeline, they both recognised a need to upskill themselves, and their staff, to ensure sustainable growth.

Fieldsway were well known for manufacturing good-looking electronic gates and customised trailers but there were plans toexpandfurther.

“We wanted bigger premises and we were developing a new model for creating high-end stainless steel benches, fixtures and fittings to complement our current work, so we needed to ensure we got this model right first time,” Scott says.

One of the programme workshops focused on leveraging genius and role clarity. This provided the ideal platform for the two owners to nut out who would do what in the future. This included restructuring the organisational design of the business and building a high-performing team.

Planning began for a move from the Thomson Road leased premises to the Whakatu Industrial Park as well as building the capability of specialist designer Mickey Heibner.

“We knew we couldn’t grow the way we needed to without building the capability of our team,” Blair says.

Mickey joined The Icehouse Effective Leadership Programme (ELP), giving him the extra skills and tools to manage the new customer base, which was expanding fast with the arrival of more efficient solar power for electronic gates – the new technology making gates more affordable for business and homeowners.

“Since I did ELP I have become more focused on my roles in the company and more open-minded about how to get the best out of the team with their skills, and it’s given me much more confidence with our clients and the other businesses we are working with on jobs,” Mickey says.

Collaborating with other quality local businesses is creating high-value channels for new business and the Fieldsway team pride themselves on working well with other complementary teams.

“We have an excellent relationship with Rabbitte Joinery when it comes to producing top-end customised kitchen and bathroom benches and fittings, we work with security firm Eastek on the electronic gates and, more recently, Think Water for irrigation work.”

The team had identified a gap in the market for creating heavy-duty water systems for irrigation. Their time in The Icehouse allowed them to step away from the business and get the model right for this work as well.

“We recognised we needed to have a bigger focus on design and project management. Ultimately designing and drawing up the plans has given us a big tick for this kind of work,” Scott says.

“We’re all about the things you can’t buy off the shelf, and we know the design expertise we can provide is going to produce the right finish,” Blair adds.

Ensuring that in-house processes are streamlined is vital, with the large number of varied projects now on the go. Working with The Icehouse programme facilitator and coach Michaela Vodanovich provided the impetus to change to WorkflowMax and online calendars, as well as only focusing on the projects that are adding value to the bottom line.ture

“Everything we do is KPI’d and we analyse where every dollar is spent; on every job we can tell the guys exactly how much time they have to get it finished and that means no stress,” Blair says.

Having moved into their new Whakatu offices in mid-2016, plans are underway to expand the workshop to have a larger bay for stainless work as the demand increases.

A 60-millimetre-thick folded stainless island for a Waimarama beach house has just been completed, another customer has recently requested oversized specialist shower nozzle fittings for an outdoor bathroom at a lake house in Taupo, and Mickey has been brought in to advise on a curved bench top for a Napier Hill kitchen that is nothing short of a work of art.

Commercial kitchens and new juicing factory plants are all being kitted out with stainless steel.

Staff are being retrained to upskill them to be able to work with the new designs, adding to the staff morale.

Both Blair and Scott agree they couldn’t be happier with the team they have built around them.

“We treat staff like family; we are interested in their personal lives, if they need to see a child in their school breakup then they should go. No one seems to want to leave, so we feel pretty good about that and it makes this business an awesome place to be.”