Tararua District businesses navigate the ‘new normal’

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Innovation and adaptability are key to navigating the new normal of COVID-19 restrictions for large businesses in the Tararua District.

The Tararua District Council is helping to support and sustain local businesses in the district through the #LoveLocalTararua campaign and District Mayor Tracey Collis said we are extremely fortunate to have outstanding large firms within the Tararua District that are committed to spending locally wherever they can, employing our people and helping us out when the community needs assistance too.

“I feel an enormous sense of pride when they put our district on the map with their innovation and success,” she said. “Some of these firms have even experienced increased demand and seen their online sales skyrocket to a point they have potential to expand.

“We are a rural district supplying and supporting a wide range of food producers, and this puts us in a positive position moving forward. Our rural suppliers and farmers rely on each other and understand our local climate and conditions best. That’s why our rural communities are grateful to have the level of choice and fantastic service from these companies.”

One local business who pivoted and adapted to COVID-19 restrictions was Dannevirke engineering company Metalform, who converted their production line to pump out face-shields for essential services. Metalform was producing tens of thousands of face-shields a week as part of the PPE required to support our country in the fight against COVID-19.

“We are now producing the face-shields at a lower level than six weeks ago,” Metalform’s sale and marketing manager, Tim Henman, said.

Having retained all their staff, at this stage Tim said there have been no real changes in their production plans.

“We are unsure of what things will look like over the next two to three months, but at this stage everything is positive,” he said.

Henman believes the #LoveLocalTararua campaign is also positive.

“Anything that promotes local businesses and local families is good,” he said.

Metalform’s managing director, Campbell Easton, took part in a free webinar last week as a presented. The webinar, ‘Focus or Pivot gave strategies to navigate through Covid-19 and beyond’, is part of a webinar series being offered by the Central Economic Development Agency (CEDA).

Deputy mayor, Erana Peeti-Webber, said according to the Territory Authorities, Tararua/Wairarapa along with a few others, are on the lowest scale for job losses in the country.

The past week’s retail trading for Tararua was up 8.3 per cent on last year’s figure, while New Zealand is currently -11.2 per cent down on last year.

“Tararua is also recorded as being the sixth best district in New Zealand for economic resilience,” Erana said. “All these figures are very pleasing for Tararua’s economic bounce back and recovery and while drought is still a concern for the farmers going forward, all-in-all Tararua is looking great so far.

“For shops and businesses this #LoveLocalTararua campaign is great.  We need to all support this great initiative by supporting each other.  We can do this by buying local and supporting local where we can.  

“At Activate Gym we have had to change the way we do a few things; we have all become cleaners as well as gym instructors but it’s for the good. But things are looking bright we have had seven new members in the past week.

Kay Brice, owner of Mitre 10 Pahiatua, is also very appreciative of the support her store is receiving.

“We understand these are stressful times, but 88 per cent of our customers are very understanding,” she said.

And while the supply chain is getting better, Kay believes it will be three or four weeks before it’s back to normal.

“But we have tonnes of sanitiser and face masks,” she said.

At Dannevirke company, Goldpine, adapting to a new way of working has been part of the challenge since they opened in Alert Level 3.

“At times it’s been quite demanding,” manager, Gerard McKay said. “At Level 3 we had someone on the gate taking contact details and then we had to work through a pre-ordering system and load out.”

Gerard said with restrictions on how many people could be out of their cars in the yard, at times things were difficult.

“We tried to have time-slots for people to pick up, but that wasn’t always easy.”

However, in Alert Level 2 Gerard said doing business is much easier.

“People use our hand sanitiser and sign themselves in,” he said.

The tricky thing now is being able to have the required stock in supply, with a big demand on trucking services.

For more information on the #LoveLocalTararua campaign, or to view the local business directory, go to: www.tararuadc.govt.nz/lovelocal


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