Posted by Les Divers on May 08, 2017

The Vocational Committee treated members on Monday night to a visit to the Wiri facility of Fruehauf NZ Limited. One of the leading assemblers of truck bodies and trailers in the country, Fruehauf employs approximately 100 people, 60 of whom work in the main production plant in Fielding. Part owner Jeff Mear gave an over-view of the company’s history and the changes which have dramatically altered the industry since the rail monopoly on long distance travel in New Zealand was abolished. 

With towing rigs and trailers now able to extend to 23m in length, members were able to observe up close the impressive capacity of trailers at various stages of construction. From curtainsiders and hardsiders to livestock, special purpose and refrigerated trailers, the company custom builds on imported chassis to the clients designed specifications. The company has been manufacturing trailers in New Zea-land since the 1940’s and entered into a licensing agreement with the historic Frue-hauf brand (Fruehauf in America has an interesting history all of its own) in 1969.

Jeff told us that the company’s biggest problem is a shortage of apprentices and skilled labour. As a result the company is not only importing labour but working with local low decile schools to provide opportunities for teenagers leaving school. Most of the larger trailers built today have computer operated brakes which will ad-just and automatically slow trucks if they happen to be cornering too fast. The company builds about 150 units per year and sets up another 100 trucks each year.
The evening was arranged with assistance from Graeme Houston who introduced and thanked Jeff and his team. Thank you to those that attended including our friends from Botany/East Tamaki Rotary.