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Silver lining for AEL as staff numbers double

News | June 1, 2009 | By:

Aspect Environmental Lining Ltd. has doubled the number of staff it employs at its lining business this year. The increase in employees comes at a time when many businesses are laying off workers as the worldwide economic downturn continues.

But while demand for liners for decorative ponds and in the agricultural sector has decreased, the backbone of the business — providing and installing geomembrane lining products for heavy construction work and for landfills —remains strong.

Strong enough for the 16-month-old company in Frankton, Hamilton, New Zealand, to employ another crew of three so it can meet demand and get projects done faster.

AEL directors Craig McMillan and Greg Terrill started the business in January 2008 after there was uncertainty about what the sale of their former workplace, Skellerup, would mean for their jobs. “The division was up for sale and no one was telling us what was happening,” McMillan said.

So far, the pair have no regrets and said that, despite the recession, the business had exceeded their expectations. When AEL began it employed only one worker, along with the two partners, but this has grown to a team of six installation technicians.

The increase in unemployment in the region also made it easier for the company to recruit skilled workers; all three of the new AEL employees had lost their previous jobs.

AEL works all over New Zealand, with its biggest contract the lining of Pike River Coal’s 8,000m2 ash pond in Greymouth last year.

Terrill said quality, good service, and calling in expert advice have been keys to the success of the young business. Machinery was the biggest cost to the business and AEL has invested $250,000 in new welding and testing equipment. The firm also outgrew its original premises and is now based in a larger warehouse and office in Frankton.

Armed with a bigger team, AEL is ready for the coming year. However, the directors said future growth would depend on the economy and they planned to review the company’s growth strategy in another year.

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