b'A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWNAftermath of the shareThe strategy was to drive costs down and rampThe beauty of Steltech, says Mike, was that market crashup the business to be more competitive. the steel beam arrived already cut to length. It was a successful play as the rest of theYou didnt have to cut a piece off here and The backdrop to this was the aftermath ofmarket was speculating that Dixon & Haddonthere; you put plates on each end, you put the 1987 share market crash. That year, onwas going broke because it was too cheap.cleats on and then shipped it out the door. Tuesday 20 October, the New Zealand stockThey were all like bloody scavengers, waitingIt also helped that, by that stage, Jim market went into freefall following a sharpto pick over our bones, says Mike. What theyDenham was running the shop floor. He haddrop on New Yorks Wall Street. Our localdidnt understand was that we were attackinga reputation for being an unbelievably driven market plummeted 22 percent during thethe market in a big way. worker and would deliver whatever was asked day, and while some eagerly awaited a rush ofA few things worked in its favour.of him. bargains come Wednesday, they didnt come. Steltech (named from steel technology)One of Bobs philosophies was, whatever It took years to recover. was one. Bob was an early adopter of thehappens, no matter what delays you may At the time, Dixon & Haddon was losing aoptimised welded beam solution, which washave incurred, you must deliver to the client. lot of money on a monthly basis. The companylaunched in the early 1990s. Rival operationsJims management of the workshop was key to had already negotiated having the rent halved.werent interested in it but Bob was astute atrealising that ambition.It was time to talk to the workforce. recognising the benefits.So, Dixon & Haddon was well positionedMike remembers the meeting. We wereCoincidentally, Wayne Carson and Johnto ramp up the volumes. It led the companyall in the smoko shed having a beer. I said, seeFrederickson (current D&H Steel Managingto win a lot of supermarket jobs and bigthis bottle of beer, its costing us $2 but wereDirector and Custom Welded Beam Manager,shed work.selling it for $1, we cant sustain it. Unless werespectively) were both at Steltecha NewAnother thing in its favour was the can cut our costs, were going to have to closeZealand Steel subsidiaryat the time Boblooming amalgamation of all the little borough the doors. realised the potential of it. Wayne wascouncils throughout Auckland. Flush with The team all bought into the plan. Theyinstrumental in setting up the tapered weldedcash, they were intent on spending all of their agreed to a 20 percent pay cut and no doublebeam plant for Steltech in the late 80s, andmoney before their assets were seized and time, just time and a half, but the workshoptook Mike and Bob on a guided tour of thethey were absorbed into Manukau, Auckland would remain open for as many hours as theyplant. John took over designing and marketingand Waitkere city councils. wanted to work. Steltech from Wayne when he left. The fast-approaching 1990 Commonwealth 52'