Is China the most cost-effective option for NZ companies?

Sam Fulton

June 20, 2015

Is China the most cost-effective option for NZ companies?

Businesses are returning from China to benefit local manufacturers.

You may have seen Fero hitting the news recently, with articles published in The Herald, The Sunday Star Times, NZ Manufacturing and most recently on Radio New Zealand. As you probably realise, we’re passionate about NZ manufacturing and are excited to see businesses actually coming back from China, wanting to place their business locally. So, we’ve been shouting from the roof tops over the last 3 months, explaining how sourcing products in China isn’t necessarily the cheapest option in the long-run.


“It is  easy to be beguiled by what on the surface appears to be a low price, but buying at the cheapest price always comes at a cost”

You get what you pay for in China so if the price too good to be true, then it is.  Many Chinese manufacturers reduce costs by compromising the quality of the raw materials in their product.  For example, copper wire costs are reduced by using recycled copper, which does not perform to specified standards.  This can result in quality problems and high mitigation costs once the component is in use.

It’s a very different way of doing business to New Zealand, so it is easy for local manufacturers to get stung.  That is why it is important to shift one’s thinking from unit-based to taking into account the overall cost of doing business.


Although its manufacturing is still cheap by New Zealand standards, rising labour and other costs are seeing China become more expensive to do business with.  Its manufacturers are off-setting these costs through economies of scale.  As a result, minimum run sizes are increasing beyond the reach of many New Zealand manufacturers.


“Even large manufacturers by New Zealand standards can be shocked to find that an order they consider huge by local standards is only a fraction of the Chinese manufacturer’s minimum”


Sourcing resource materials in China is also harder than most Kiwi businesses anticipate because Chinese regulations make it surprisingly difficult to access many manufacturing materials from within that country. Export and manufacturing licence constraints mean Chinese manufacturers are often unable to source raw materials that are readily available in other parts of the world.  This causes problems for New Zealand businesses that specify product materials that their Chinese manufacturer is not able to purchase, even though the material may be made literally down the road.  The New Zealand business then has to go to the hassle and expense of specifying and validating alternative parts.

Fero gets around this issue by importing the required resources itself, then re-exporting to its manufacturers in China. It has set up a dual New Zealand / China manufacturing option so that it can deliver what its customers need – no matter what the timeframe, quantity or specification.  By integrating Chinese supply with local manufacturing, its able to provide a stronger supply chain and a more comprehensive service.


“We have been doing business in China for the past 12 years and have learnt what works.  Rather than using an agent, we have Chinese employees here in New Zealand, who are invaluable for helping us to manage the relationship with manufacturers in China”

This business model means that Fero uses its Chinese partners for its New Zealand manufacturer customers who need high volume, high labour input looms and harnesses.  Alternatively, Fero manufactures at its Auckland facilities – often at a very competitive price, and a cheaper overall cost, than could be done in China.  Where possible it has automated its operations, enabling it to keep labour costs down.

Providing a local manufacturing option is proving to be increasingly popular with New Zealand manufacturers because it enables them to be more responsive and turn changes around far faster.


“Long lead times and distance mean that specification changes to Chinese-manufactured goods can take many months to flow through the supply chain.  This makes it difficult for the manufacturer to respond quickly to their own customers’ needs”

For example, if an appliance manufacturer wants to change a function such as adding a button to turn off the timer alarm, then the wiring loom will need to be updated.  It can take five or six months from the time that change is notified, until the new stock arrives in New Zealand and then subsequently replaces the old stock ahead of it in the supply chain.

Although there remain many advantages to getting goods manufactured in China, it is vital to do a lot of due diligence and spend a lot of time building relationships and understanding Chinese business culture before embarking on a business arrangement.


It’s a high-risk game and there are no shortcuts.  Many New Zealand companies are finding out the hard way just how difficult it is to resolve issues from the other side of the world, and how hard it is to prevent intellectual property and other rip-offs.  This presents a lot of opportunities for Fero and other local businesses because we manage the difficulties and navigate the minefields of doing business with China, enabling our customers to benefit from the best of both worlds.


“Anyone trying to do this themselves without prior experience is essentially playing Russian roulette with their business”

Sam Fulton

May 10, 2015

Fero launches new MRP System

Fero NZ - Active image

May is going to be a very big month for Fero. We’re making a change that will take us one huge step forward as a business and how we operate.


Our mission over the past few years has been ‘to contribute to the sustainability of local Australasian manufacturing and our customers’ ability to remain competitive on a world stage’.

 To help achieve this we have set a goal to provide a 5 day lead time with 98% DIFOTIS within the next 12 months. We’ll achieve this once we have launched our… new MRP system.


Very soon we’re introducing a sleek new system that will integrate all of our IT functions under the one umbrella.   For a couple of years we have known that we’re fast outgrowing the systems that we have been working with. In order for us to provide the accuracy, quality and service that our customers require we have identified the need to improve the way we drive the business.   We are now at that point and the implementation of this software has come at just the right time.


In order to continue to increase our efficiency, accuracy and productivity we know that we need a customisable system that is developed for a high mix, low volume manufacturing business such as ours. With our goal of a 5 DAY LEADTIME WITH 98% DIFOTIS within the next 12 months, it is imperative that we have an MRP system that can help us to deliver this. We will also need to work with our customers to ensure that we have some forward planning of resource and materials required for this leadtime.


Scoping and researching various solutions over a number of months, we settled on Abel Solutions. We feel that it gave us the best product for our business and in turn will ensure that we are able to provide an even better service to our customers. It was our requirement that whatever we used will contribute significantly to improving our delivery to the customer and our mission of ensuring local manufacturing sustainability and competitivity on the world stage. We feel that Able will provide that and more!


The last 4 months have been very busy with data transfer, customisation, and training to ensure a seamless transition. In May we will go live and we are looking forward to have a host of functions that will greatly increase our internal efficiency and delivery of a superior service to our customers.


Your feedback please.


Unfortunately we are very aware that we do not live in a perfect world and that any major change to software can cause some interruption to the business. If you do see anything that is not working well please let us know. We have worked very hard to ensure that there will be no major issues, however there could be some minor oversights and we will be able to fix once we become aware of them.


Fero NZ - Feedback


You should see very little change in the way that we interact with you. There will be a slightly different look to some documents such as order confirmations etc, however we want to ensure no disruption to business as usual.


At Fero we are looking forward to working with a new system that will make our lives a lot simpler and will ensure that we continue to lead the market in service, quality and delivery.

Sam Fulton

May 10, 2015

Cutting Capacity Doubles

Fact: To supply the Australiasian market and ensure sustainability of local manufacture we need to be able keep our customers lean.

At Fero, we have always been very aware of where the constraint in our production is. The products we are manufacturing all start with the same process and any holdups in this area can make it difficult for us to achieve our promised delivery times.


Our constraint is also magnified by the fact that frequent tool changes are required and the mix of work going through can have a huge impact. With the growth that we have sustained over the last 3 years we have been close to capacity in this area a number of times and we know that to continue to grow, and especially to achieve our goal of A FIVE DAY LEAD TIME we need to increase capacity in this area.


Fero NZ - Blog

You may have already guessed that I am talking about our wire cutting process. Anyone who has toured our facility will be aware that we have significant resource and space dedicated to cutting, with four machines chomping away all day.


Fero NZBig News

I am now pleased to announce that we have a 5th machine. All the way from Schleuniger in Switzerland is our new superstar machine. This machine will not only double our cutting capacity, but also greatly reduce the demand on crimping, as it does it all!




Faster Turnarounds

The beauty of this machine is that it has very fast tool changes.   Being suppliers to the Australasian market means we’re often faced with small run work that requires frequent tool changes. To date it can take up to 20mins per change. The same changes on the new machine can be done in under 1min! The plan is to leave the larger run work on the older machines where there will be less set up time required and do all the short runs on the new machine with its fast turn around.


Improved QA

Added to the increased efficiency there are some very impressive integrated quality processes that will not allow crimping to progress unless preset quality measurements are met, therefore ensuring even higher quality levels and traceablility for our clients.Fero NZ Blog


This is a very exciting development for Fero and will give us the ability to deliver on our goal of a 5 day lead time. With this development, and more that we are implementing this year, we feel that we are able to offer the best service and quality possible.


Sam Fulton

April 1, 2015

Simple ways to reduce crimp failure or cost issues.

The quality of a single termination can affect the operation of an entire electronic product, and that can cost companies thousands in Returns and other issues.

Fero - Crimping ToolsAt Fero, we understand manufacturing and assembly. Attention to detail is vital in ensuring smooth running of operations and products. We work through supply chain and engineering issues with clients using ‘fit for purpose’ principles, thereby minimising longer term issues in the solutions we provide.

Follow these simple tips to enhance your manufacturing design:

  1. Select the correct crimp and match it accurately to the wire size you are using.
    It seems obvious doesn’t it, but you would be surprised how often it happens. Always ensure you have the right type of crimp for the job and that it fits the wire correctly.
  2. Consider carefully the make and type of terminal you are specifying as many are only available in high MOQ’s and with long lead times. They may originally be available in small quantities to get you to the proto type stage but once in production we face the real issues. Fero is very happy to offer advice on whether you are considering common types of terminals that will not cause you problems later on. As we all are aware it is very hard to change terminals and connectors later that may need to be backwards compatible with your machinery or product.
  3. Crimping methods must be considered. We often face the difficulties in getting machinery to crimp unusual terminals and the costs associated start to become very relevant if we are not able to fully automate cutting of wires and automatic crimping. Once again Fero can offer advice on whether we can fully automate and utilize not only the lower costs but can ensure repeatability and quality of terminations using sophisticated “crimp force analysis” machinery in the crimping process.
  4. Pre-insulated terminals versus standard QC type (series 250) 6.3 tab or whatever you are used to calling the range of terminals. Pre-insulated terminals are great for auto electricians and low voltage systems, BUT they do not really compare to the quality of crimps associated with rollover type crimp terminals consistently crimped by purpose built applicators with full capability studies done to ensure full conductor compaction. Post fit insulators can then look after the insulation and you can ensure you have crimping that can handle medium voltage 110~240v and higher current without arcing. Air presses or hand tools through either PVC of Nylon hide a multitude of sins. We can also only fully automate the superior types of terminals so costs to you are lower.
  5. Having said that we have invested in more pre-insulated terminals and machinery as the customer is the ultimate decision maker.
  6. Carefully design form and fit for purpose. Don’t be tempted to rush it – time spent here is worth it. Remember the old saying measure twice, cut once? It’s as true in electrical engineering and hi tech manufacture!
  7. Determine the optimal temperature rating for your product and design around this to ensure working efficiency and a quality product.
  8. Match the physical properties of the crimp to the environment it will be used. Sourcing the right product and understanding how and where it will be used are a vital part of what we do to ensure a quality long term solution to our client’s needs.

Fero - crimped wire imageFero has provided electrical manufacturing solutions to the hi tech industry since 1987. Our team of engineers work tirelessly to design the right solutions and then our production teams assemble them quickly and carefully. It’s a simple process that has stood the test of time and maintained long term customer retention.

We deliver the following important services for our clients

  • Product design and specification with formalised worksheets
  • Process control – QA, capability and maintenance of high standards of production
  • Matching process to run size
  • Automated processes to reduce error and speed up production
  • Testing and sampling – in-house engineer to develop samples and test for standards and tolerances e.g. pull off testing.

To see more of work and understand how we work with our customers, click here to visit our website.

Tasi Samu

March 15, 2015

Introducing Inmatec Nitrogen Generators

Create Nitrogen from compressed air.

Do you currently purchase bottled Nitrogen? If so, then you could be paying more than you need. Our new range of Nitrogen Generators deliver incredible cost savings faster than you might think.


“We switched to an Inmatec Generator a year ago, and couldn’t believe the cost savings – it’s paid for itself in under a year! We were so impressed we became the sole distributor in the NZ market.”

Sam Fulton, Sales and Marketing Director

Nitrogen Generators Image

So how does it work? 

Basically, the nitrogen generators produce nitrogen from compressed air available on-site or supplied by specific dedicated air compressor.

Firstly, the air is cleaned by preliminary filtration which eliminates impurities such as humidity, oil vapours, particles and hydrocarbon. The filtrated compressed air flow is then subsequently fed into the “carbon molecular sieve” (CMS) filter. During its passage though the filter, oxygen- and carbon dioxide molecules are eliminated from the air and the pressure dew point is lowered.

As a result, we have a clean and dry flow of high purity nitrogen gas which can be used not only for InterSelect’s selective soldering machines, but for many other applications.

Air pressure, air pressure temperature, nitrogen purity and nitrogen pressure are monitored accurately and continuously. The nitrogen generators adopt “Pressure swing absorption” technology (PSA) which enables in-house nitrogen supply purity of up to 99.999% (Quality 5.0). Now that’s pure!

Eight advantages of generating your own Nitrogen?

    1. Very cost effective
    2. Plug & Play – simple to set up
    3. High quality – 99.999% purity
    4. Perfectly matched for InterSelect’s selective soldering solutions, as well as other applications
    5. Increased availability of Nitrogen, when and where you want it
    6. Easy and seamless Nitrogen handling
    7. Constant purity measurement ensures consistent high quality supply
    8. Reduced safety hazards in handling cylinders as well as no handling costs

Why Choose Interselect?

    • Inmatec solutions are made in Germany using the very best engineering to create a very high quality product.
    • Inmatec has a worldwide network of technicians to assist its customers. As well as selling Interselect products, Fero is now also a service agent here in NZ.
    • All nitrogen generators come with a standard 1 year warranty (with options of extending).
    • Inmatec Nitrogen Generators feature a low-maintenance, compact design
Sam Fulton

March 3, 2015

Fero Strategic Development

“To be the first choice in connectivity in the Australasian Manufacturing Industry”

Fero - Strategic growthThere has been a lot of thought going into our business here at Fero lately. We are about to enter into another period of growth and development and the end goal has been clearly outlined for us.


To communicate strategy is never an easy task, especially for a business as complex as ours. To start with an overall goal is never a bad way to go.

Ours is:




The reason that this is such a great way to outline our strategy is that there is so much that cascades down from it. For instance in order to achieve this we must have;


  • Data accuracy. Our stock and BOMs must be 99% accurate.
  • Complete reliability. For our customers to be working to such short lead times our DIFOTIS must be at 100%
  • Deep and lasting relationships. We need to be working in a partnership type relationship with our customers
  • World class facilities
  • A highly engaged workforce
  • Focus on lean business practices
  • Robust forecasting processes

fero - Strategy

We have spent the last few months investing considerable time and resource into developing a detailed strategic plan that will continue to set us apart from the competition.   It takes a lot of focus to implement significant strategic change while still continuing with business as usual, however our desire to be a company of continuous improvement is becoming engrained in our culture and we feel we are on the right track.


Last month we kicked off our Lean Journey. Our whole team has now undergone a detailed and intensive training course and are excited to get going with a number of initiatives. We have a number of customers that are already a long way down the road with their lean journeys and we have been able to learn a lot from them and see some real benefits in reducing waste in our business and increasing value to our customers.


In the next couple of months we will be commissioning machinery that will see up to 50% increases in our capacity and ability to deliver high quality, cost effective solutions to the local manufacturing market, with very quick turn around times.


Fero - Customer Survey ImageSignificant input from the recent customer survey that we ran has gone into our strategic development. We understand that manufacturing is not an easy business and that there are some common issues that we need to help solve.

  • We will be working to make our engineering team much more accessible to our customers, so that we can use our knowledge and experience to help solve your problems.
  • With the best of intentions there are always those urgent requirements, we want to be able to supply to our customers to ensure that manufacturing time is not lost on waiting for sub assemblies
  • Reliability is paramount and the ability of suppliers to Deliver In Full, On Time, In Spec can be the difference between success and failure.
  • Local manufacture is very important these days and we must be able to produce world class products in New Zealand that allow us to keep competing, and dominating, on the world stage. On the other side of the coin we must also have the ability to source from global markets to ensure that we are delivering what we need to ensure success.


It is going to be a great year for Fero, and one that sets us up to really provide the best service to the manufacturing industry. We know where we need to go and how to get there, and I look forward to keeping you updated.

Tasi Samu

February 21, 2015

Interselect’s Selective Soldering Machines


An increasing number of businesses are needing more accuracy, greater flexibility and a higher throughput in their soldering requirements. It’s a tough challenge, but InterSelect’s selective soldering systems are designed to meet that challenge, whilst still remaining cost-effective.

Fero is delighted to be distributing these machines in NZ.


“From the beginning InterSelect have been listening to their customers, and it is because of this InterSelect are in a leading position when it comes to customer satisfaction, quality, and performance.”

Sam Fulton, Sales and Marketing Director.

InterSelect’s selective soldering machines integrate new technologies such as:

  • Laser solder-wave monitoring.
  • Adaptive wave height correction.
  • PCB warpage Control.
  • Precision X,Y,  Z-axis control.

Nitrogen Generators Image

Greater Control throughout the process.


InterSelect’s selective soldering solution achieves unprecedented levels of accuracy and consistency.


Pyrometer control and heat-profiling make the thoroughness with which these systems work visible throughout the entire process. All data can be read straight from the machines impressive 19inch monitor, then saved and exported (through the network or USB stick) for the purposes of traceability. It’s that simple.


The IS-PhotoScan software solder programs can be designed completely independent from the machine’s location, on any PC or laptop without having to stop production or even being on the machine. To describe the design software as user friendly is an understatement. From a simple photo upload, to a click and drag, to entering basic parameters, this is by far the easiest piece of programming software you will ever use.


All InterSelect machines have a MicroDrop Jet Fluxer which provides precise drop by drop flux application. The Fluxer can process both individual points as well as entire lines at once. The flux quantity of any droplet is precisely metered and adjusted. Thus, the flux application can be adapted precisely to the requirements of each solder joint. Through the selective flux wetting, in contrast to the traditional “wet the entire circuit board” wave solder approach, the flux consumption is drastically reduced and the contamination by flux residues is minimized.


Monitoring the fluxing stream and counting every individual drop increases efficiency and consistency. The Flux-Control can operate in various modes, as a simple drop-counter or as a position check of the drop on the PCB, and more.

Selective Soldering Machines

Inline or Offline – You Choose.


InterSelects selective soldering machines are available as inline or offline systems. The modular design of inline systems allow the system to be matched exactly to the requirements of the assemblies. Machines with multiple solder pots allow the benefits of using different alloys and switching from one to another without effort – just by a software click!


Producing more assemblies in less time is no longer a problem with the multi-wave technology. If it has to be even faster the IS-I-460 modular systems and parallel modular systems leave nothing to be desired. Several soldering , flux-and preheater-modules can be connected in series so that the system can be scaled as per the output requirement.


In some cases customers need an efficient way of dealing with low-med volume, but on various different boards. This is where InterSelect’s standalone offline system comes into its own, as it combines:

  • Small machine footprints (from 1m2 floor space).
  • Universal PCB frame for large printed circuit boards.
  • Flexible equipment options.


The intelligent design of the offline machines and carefully selected automation features enable professional results in a selective soldering process with minimal effort. In a production environment with cell production, InterSelect’s standalone offline systems can be seamlessly integrated. Thanks to pre-assembled 2-way handling, a PCB can be prepared, while a second PCB is already being processed (fluxed, preheated, and soldered). The boards are loaded and unloaded at the same point so in most cases you will only need a single operator.


Nitrogen supply is a necessary component in selective soldering, and InterSelect have a range of Nitrogen generators available to suit the any one of their machines. The Nitrogen generators incorporate pressure swing absorption technology which enables a supply of purity up to 99.999% (5.0 Grade). Take a look here for more details.


F&P Healthcare, who are a world leader in medical equipment manufacture, are the first in New Zealand to use InterSelects selective soldering machinery, and they are genuinely impressed by its overall performance, and ease of use.


All machines come with a standard 1 year warranty (with options of extending) and are proudly serviced locally by Fero ltd.

Sam Fulton

February 2, 2015

Customer Survey Results

The first step in exceeding your customers expectations is to know those expectations.   Roy Hollister Williams

It is with this quote ringing in our ears that we embarked on finding out what our customers thought about us. We created a survey and then asked all our customers to complete it, as honestly as they could. Were we a little nervous? Of course. As a business we’ve had our fair share of problems and issues, but we really felt that we’d overcome these over the last few years and that our business had seen growth as a result of a clearer focus on our core competencies, resulting in top service and quality.

Research for discoveryWe wanted to discover a little more about you and drill down a little further into what you like and dislike about working with Fero. This wasn’t an exercise in stroking our own ego’s, but rather an important step in understanding the issues and making changes to our business accordingly. We didn’t expect to hear all good news, and we have clearly heard what we need to be working on!

Overall I was not surprised with the results.  We feel that we are ahead of our competition in most areas but still have some way to go to become the benchmark for the industry.  Fero will lead the industry as “the first choice in connectivity”, and this survey helps us to see where our efforts are best focused in achieving this vision.


diagram showing good results in service82% of customers see Fero as being very or extremely professional. 

88% believe they have a good or very good relationship with Fero.

86% of customers think that Fero understands their needs quite or extremely well.

Personally I would like to be in the mid 90’s for these measures.  I feel that they are key indicators of performance and market perception and we need to be higher.

Delivery on time is critical to our customers and to our ongoing mission of supporting “sustainable local manufacture and ensuring that NZ manufactures are leaders on the world stage.” At the moment we have been rated at 92% for delivery on time.  I feel that this is close to where we want to be sitting.  Our goal this year is to have a DIFOTIS rating of over 95% and we are well on the way to achieving that.

Somewhat disappointingly only 50% said that Fero’s quality was better than the competitors, 43% said that it was the same, and 7% thought it was somewhat worse.  In our industry quality is very important and we need to ensure that we are leading the market in this area.  7% gives us a strong message that there is improvement to be made here.

75% of our customers thought that our service is better than the competition.  While it is reassuring to be this far ahead of the rest, a goal of at least 85% has been set.

THE POWER OF RECOMMENDATIONImportance of word of mouth

We firmly believe that a good indicator of how well you’re doing in business is whether your customers are prepared to recommend you. After all, NZ is a small country and word-of-mouth is vital to success. So, we were delighted that 86% of customers said they would happily recommend us to a colleague. And we ask you to tell as many of your colleague about us as you’re able, in 2015.



importance of adding valueFero has core competencies and experience in a broad number of areas. It’s important to us that customers benefit from our experience, so we were delighted that 80% of respondents believe that we add value to their business. This takes us beyond being simply a supplier, and more towards being a partner.  When assessing relationships they range from the bottom, being price based relationships, to the ultimate of being strategic partners.  Moving forwards as a business, we want to focus more on long term partnership relationships, in which we feel we can make a real difference to a customers’ business; a relationship with open dialogue and mutual understanding.


What customer love about feroWe asked you to highlight the main benefit of working with Fero and were delighted with what you had to say. Key words kept coming up again and again, so we analysed them and placed them in a word cloud where the size of the word is linked to the number of times it was used in your feedback. You acknowledged how important it is that we’re local, the strength of our relationship and that we offer good quality. We work hard at developing our customer relationships and continue to invest in QA to ensure quality – thanks for noticing!

On the subject of our account managers, the feedback was very positive here too.  As you can see from the below diagram they are definitely doing more than drinking coffee all day, and it is very satisfying to see that we have a team who have great relationships with our customers.

What customers love about FeroWe received some very clear messages in terms of what you want to see us improve and change.  Two subjects continually popped up in your comments.

  1. Leadtimes.  You want these to be shorter.  We hear this loud and clear and as part of our strategic planning we are working out how we can provide a turn around that cannot be equalled in the market.  More on this in future correspondence.
  2. You want us to help with better solutions.  Somehow word has got out that we have a bunch of engineers that know their stuff.  You have asked that we provide more technical expertise to help you with key issues and provide answers through our engineering team.

When asked what we could do to make your business more profitable you all told us to drop our prices…(I think we walked into that one) however when compared to our competitors, 50% of you said our prices were about the same and 31% said they were lower to a great deal lower.  It is not easy to provide better service and quality than the rest at lower prices but we seem to be doing it!

When asked what frustrates you when dealing with Fero, 80% said nothing!  89% of you were satisfied with Fero as a supplier to your business.

I am glad to be able to provide a summery of the results of the survey.  If anyone would like a full report then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me on 021 889 691 or at

We all appreciate the feedback and will be using it to continue to improve our delivery to you.

Sam Fulton

December 2, 2014

Hi Tech Manufacturing solutions in China

“Helping our clients to source offshore when the time is right, is a key part of our future. We’re working closely with our partners abroad to ensure we deliver successful offshore manufacturing solutions.”


Map of ChinaManufacturing in China to cut costsIt has been a few weeks now and time in the office seems to fly by, however the trip to China in October is still fresh in our minds, as is the way forward for us in a very dynamic market.


Greg, Grant, George and myself were in China for two weeks and we were working flat out.  There seems to be no other way in China, as the energy and drive is apparent everywhere.  China is a place where things get done and a sense of urgency really prevails.  Unfortunately if you are not there and giving face-to-face time, that sense of urgency seems to slip.  You become a second priority and it can be hard to get action.


Traditionally manufacturing in China is seen as a way to cut costs and increase profitability.  This can certainly be achieved but it is a long, hard road.  Management overheads, quality assurance, communication, shipping, MOQs, engineering turn around, and lead times are all a mine field of hidden costs and can absorb resource faster than anything.


Relationships are key in doing business in China.  What, at the time, is a lot of long meetings, dinners and copious toasts, does lead to the personal relationships that can help to smooth some of the difficulties of dealing with this massive powerhouse of production and often will help to give our relatively small NZ demand a great leg up.  It requires a big investment and I am pleased to say that the relationships that Fero has had in China stretch back over a decade. It is very obvious that this gives us a real advantage when dealing with our Chinese partners, and ensures our success in achieving Hi Tech manufacturing solutions in China.


I think it is time that Fero used these relationships to contribute more to our Vision of contributing to sustainable local manufacture and helping NZ manufacturers to be leaders on the world stage.  We have very strong relationships in China and we need  to be the conduit between the low cost manufacturing model and the niche market that is Hi Tech Manufacturing in NZ.


Building relationships is key to doing business in ChinaOur relationships and experience allow us to greatly reduce the hidden cost of having product manufactured in China, however we can still greatly improve this.  During our visit I realized that if we were to treat out customers the same way we treat our suppliers we wouldn’t have anyone dealing with us.  Supplier relationships are vitally important to the success of any business and we must remember this and ensure that we are nurturing our relationships in China.  It is not enough to visit annually and expect that we are going to get the highest level of service and quality with a few emails.  We need to be spending time at all levels of the business, from the Managing Director to the process worker on the floor, they all need to know what drives us and our customers.


How can we expect immediate action and focus on our projects, when we are a small fish in a huge pond?  As usual we Kiwis need to think of other ways to get the results we want, and can not rely on our purchasing power…


Workers in a Chinese Hi Tech Manufacturing plant

2015 will see us contributing more resource to building our relationships and in turn developing our capabilities to satisfy the manufacturing market back home with increased service out of China.  It is very hard for New Zealand  manufacturers to go to China and receive the kind of DIFOTIS that we require and expect for our businesses, without the benefit of long term relationships and extensive experience of a company that is dedicated to linking both these markets.


Don’t worry…. We are in no way going to be taking the eye off the ball at home, and in fact this trip just confirms how important it is to have reliable onshore manufacturing capabilities close to our customers.  We have big things coming up in the new year and some very exciting investments that are going to hugely increase our capacity and capabilities on shore and ensure that we are providing an even better and more comprehensive service to our customers.  WATCH THIS SPACE…I look forward to telling you all about it soon!

Sam Fulton

November 6, 2014

The Team Vibe@Fero


 Fero’s staff make the difference.

We firmly believe that there’s a direct correlation between contented staff and happy customers. Recently we invested in getting some feedback from our team on how they were feeling about working at Fero. We’re sharing these results with you because we believe it sets us apart from many of our competitors, and explains why and how we do such a great job.


Happy staff care about the work they do. They enjoy coming to work and are interested and motivated to do well, and to see the company do well as a result.


Happy staff stay with companies for longer, and that experience provides a better service to customers.

54% of staff have been with us over 3 years


Over half of our staff have been with us for over 3 years – that’s a huge amount of experience that we’re able to plough back into the work we do for our customers, whether assembling wiring looms on our production line or our engineering team collaborating on design blueprints. This result is even more exceptional when you consider how fast Fero has grown – in the last 3 years we have increased our workforce from 40 to 60!


85 satisfied85% of our staff said they were satisfied with working at Fero and 87% said they were satisfied in their role within the company. A massive 90% said they backed us in the journey towards even greater success and are motivated to see us grow. We like to recognise the good work of our staff, and it’s obviously working as 78% feel satisfied with the recognition they receive at work.





Any army needs good leaders. 85% felt that our senior managers demonstrate a commitment to quality, which should be reflected in the completed work you receive from us. 82% felt very happy with their manager, whilst 76% felt valued by their direct supervisor.



When we asked our team what one thing they loved about working at Fero, here’s what they had to say!

What do you love about working at Fero


We’re delighted with the results of the survey, and we’ll be running it each year in order to measure how we’re doing against this benchmark. We’d like to say to all our staff for making Fero a great place to work, and for continuing to deliver exceptional work to our customers.


Thank You