NZ’s Eastown ‘Open Span’ Timber Plant to Rise From the Ashes

According to Eastown Timber Processors Managing Director, James Richardson, timber is a "space hungry" industry.

Tue 26 Sep 23


Christmas will be a time to cheer for Eastown Timber Processors, with the NZ-based supplier of outdoor timber and fencing materials expecting its new custom-built plant to be fully operational in preparation for the holiday season.

In March 2022, a large fire engulfed Eastown’s Whanganui East site, and at the height of the response, seven fire engines and a command unit were set up to control the blaze.

An investigation into the fire found it was caused by an electrical fault in the paint line area of the site.

Further complicating matters, asbestos – connected to an adjacent property – was found in fragments of building paper related to the fires.

The aftermath of the disastrous March 2022 fire, which saw the processing plant shut down for at least 18 months. (Photo Credit: Bevan Conley courtesy of NZ Herald)

As reported in the NZ Herald, Managing Director James Richardson said construction “had been progressing well, with its structure completed and cladding being put onto the frame this week.”

According to Mr Richardson, Eastown Buildlink, the company’s retail business, remained open throughout the cleanup, planning and rebuilding of the building, adding to a busy time for the company.

“We certainly appreciate the public’s support.

“All we want to be doing is making timber. First, though, we need to build a very large shed.”

He said that work began in February; however, work had been slowed due to the complexity of the building’s compliance process.

“Everything takes longer than you want it to, but we are getting there,” he said, “by the time you get consent, and you get this, and you get that, it all takes time.”

“There’s a lot of work at every single step of the project making sure that [it’s] compliant to the new standards, which are pretty complex,” Mr Richardson told the NZ Herald.

Wood Cental understands that construction crews are currently cladding the building, and once complete, attention will turn to fitting out the building’s interior.

Once operational, Eastown Timber Processors move and lift many heavy materials at their plant. Their services include timber machining, lamination, coating and treatment. (Photo Credit: Supplied by Hyster NZ)

He said the build had started around February this year, but things had progressed slower than the team had hoped.

However, once completed, the building will be much easier to move around thanks to an open-span roof, which replaces the previous sawtooth roof design.

Once complete, it will be used for timber processing, with a treatment plant and high-speed planers to be placed inside the building.

According to Mr Richardson, timber is a “space hungry” industry, with the new design providing much-needed space on the floor.

“Our packets are up to 6m long, so moving a 6m packet through a shed full of poles is quite a pain,” he said.

The previous design required a lot of poles to be installed from roof to floor, while “the open span is quite a lot more efficient, and we can use the footprint better, and then we’ve got new equipment to work with as well, new forklift, new planners, extraction units, so it’s a bit of a different beast.”


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