Styrotech CNC: Our 'State of the nation' and looking towards 2017

It's been a while since we last posted a blog - undoubtedly a reflection of how busy we've been in 2016. Things are, however, changing - unless you've been living under a rock, you'd know how expensive it is to live in Auckland. "Auckland’s housing crisis is at breaking point" and "NZ tops IMF's housing un-affordability list" reflect this – you can’t miss the headlines.

As costs rise, what people earn is put under more and more pressure. People need more money to cover the cost of living; if they can't get it from their current job, they naturally seek higher pay, a new job, a lower cost of living, or both.

This affects everyone, in every industry. We're feeling it - electricity costs, rates, waste disposal, water, insurance, building compliance costs and wages - particularly wages - have all increased.

It's an ongoing challenge for us to maintain prices, the quality we pride ourselves on and keep the skills we need, to do what we do. For example, the last 12 months have seen Qingsong leave, and CJ let us know that he’ll be moving up north in early 2017.

We've been looking for replacements for CJ & Qingsong for a while – in fact, we’ve known CJ would be leaving us for at least 6+ months. We've had heaps of warning, yet we’re still struggling to find ‘that’ person. When we do find someone, either experienced, or with potential to be a CNC machinist, there expectation of what we'll pay them is more than we've ever paid anyone before. It’s understandable - if people need to live near us (so they don’t spend hours in traffic), they need appropriate money to be able to afford to - and they ask for it. We’re very fortunate in that Blair joined us earlier this year. Under the tutelage of CJ, Blair has developed excellent 3 & 5-Axis CNC machining skills, and is now more than capable of taking on moderate volumes of even the most advanced work, while Mykal, who recently joined the team is progressing really well.

We are, however, still looking for another CNC machinist to join the team – either experienced, or with the potential to develop into one. Even when we find this person, the reality is, it takes a long time to learn the skills! So, if you’re interested in joining us here at Styrotech CNC, drop us a note, we can have a chat about what we can offer and, for the right person, we'll try pretty hard to come up with a package that works!

Long story short, the effect of CJ moving on, and a new team coming up to speed is that our overall capacity is reduced (we are, after all, short staffed), while our ability to take on and complete the more challenging 3D CNC projects needs to be scaled back (at least in the short term). Ironically, this comes at a time when demand is a high as it’s been in recent times – ultimately we can only do what we can do - there are only so many hours in a day, week and weekends and unfortunately we’ve had no choice but to turn away some jobs we would have otherwise taken on. Getting work done before Christmas is already challenging (even now, in mid-November!), and our lead-time reflects this - we’re working as hard as we can, with the resources we have available to continue to deliver quality product, on time.

Understanding a job, preparing the CAD, programming and then cutting it takes time – far longer than most people appreciate. Virtually every job we do takes more time than anticipated and quoted for – it’s a tricky balance between the time the job will take to do it properly, and what we actually quote (and charge) for it.

Our prices have been steady since the early 2000's - in fact, they've actually decreased in most areas (you guys have been getting a great deal!). But (there’s always a but), commercial reality dictates that to keep the doors open, we’re going to need to increase our prices by 15% as of January 1, 2017. This will affect all jobs quoted after January 1, 2017, and will apply to all of our services - CAD optimisation, CNC machining, 3D printing and 3D scanning.

Some final words. Firstly, a big thank you to our customers for their patience, your ongoing support and for continuing to give us the opportunity to do your work. We hugely appreciate this, and we remain, as ever, committed to delivering the absolute best quality we can, on time, at a reasonable price. We’re looking forward to continuing to help complete your projects over the coming months and years! Between now and when we discuss your next project, all the best for Christmas and a prosperous 2017!
About the Author

Jonathan Squires With a background in business and product management both in New Zealand and internationally, Jon is currently working with Styrotech CNC as Sales and Marketing manager.

Having toyed with product design for some years I entered the Formica Formations competition to test my blue sky design process, and was delighted to have won and had Beehive fully realised.

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All prices are shown in New Zealand Dollars and inclusive of GST unless otherwise stated.