Enztec readies for another period of growth

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 To cope with orders, the company recently installed three Matsuura 5-axis machining centres and is recruiting engineering staff for its design and workshop teams.

To cope with orders, the company recently installed three Matsuura 5-axis machining centres and is recruiting engineering staff for its design and workshop teams.

Founded in 1989, Enztec is seeing tremendous growth after deciding to focus on orthopaedic tools 12 years ago. To cope with orders, the company recently installed three Matsuura 5-axis machining centres and is recruiting engineering staff for its design and workshop teams.

Enztec, an innovative Kiwi company that were finalists in last month’s export awards, by its own admission, “flies under the radar”.
Enztec is a player in the medical instrument industry, which internationally is worth some $40 billion annually. It designs and manufactures orthopaedic surgical tools and supplies huge international medical equipment supply firms, among them Johnson & Johnson. This small Kiwi firm foots it with the big players in the huge, highly regulated and ever-evolving industry.

Enztec designs and manufactures products to meet customer requirements. The entire process is undertaken on site in Christchurch. Iain McMillan, the Design and Development Manager, says the company’s biggest challenge is recruiting the level of staff needed to achieve the standard of excellence necessary for the products it produces. “Our products, systems and people need to be able to get through audits, FDA approval and be competitive internationally,” he says.

He says “communication, and commitment to promises” are two of the things that set Enztec apart from competitors.

“We undertake and deliver complex solutions very well. We are not the cheapest, and quality is a given these days, so the big thing our staff focus on is delivery on time – set a promise, and hit it.”

“To get great results, surgeons need great tools,” Dr McMillan says. “Getting the right staff to create these products is crucial.”

Often customers cannot find exactly what they want and Dr McMillan’s seven-strong design team tailors solutions to meet their needs. Bespoke products are a significant niche market. “That has been our arrowhead into these companies, and this has help open doors for us,“Dr McMillan says.

Business just keeps growing for this company of 38 staff, a number which has risen sharply in recent years after a restructuring period a few years ago.

Enztec’s highly maintained, highly ordered workshop requires a very specific brand of tradesman he says is hard to come by.

“We have invested heavily in top-end gear. We need people who can work on highly sophisticated plant,” Dr McMillan says. Employees need to pay attention to detail, the ability to document and measure and to be sharply focused.

Enztec recently installed three high-end Matsuura 5-axis machining centres, purchased from Global Machine Tools Ltd, as the company continues to expand. Outgrowing its current site, it also plans to move to a larger base in the near future.

Recently Enztec spent five months looking for the right machinist. They tend to find the right people through association, rather than advertising.

Dr McMillan says they have very low staff turnover, partly because of the small team, and partly because the work is so interesting and challenging for staff. Some previous staff lost in restructuring have been re-employed and were happy to return, he says.

“New staff enjoy the work, the technical challenge and professional growth. Our product is highly complex, and we use a lot of technology in the business.”

The right people for the business are “a step up” from the average employee, he says. “We need team members who are able to think and work independently, and take on responsibility.”

Enztec’s workshop is pleasant and clean. It runs day and night shifts to keep up with demand and hit targets, and Dr McMillan only sees more growth ahead.

After a small beginning – founded by a tradesman and a surgeon 25 years ago – and some very high level investment, the decision 12 years ago to focus on orthopaedic tools has paid off.

Enztec was a finalist in last month’s Canterbury Business Awards and is again a finalist in this month’s New Zealand Innovators Awards. The awards recognise commercial innovation and talent in New Zealand companies, particularly ones with a global outlook.

“Our company view is that we can add value to New Zealand through high-tech manufacturing, we just have to be focused and work smarter,” Dr McMillan says. “Our view is that this will lead to creation of high-value jobs now and in the future”.

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