Howick – Innovator since day one

Innovation is part of the Howick creation story. Since our foundation in 1978, in true Kiwi style we have applied creative thinking with engineering nous to solve challenging technical problems. Coupled with a focus on continuous improvement, it is a mindset that has helped Howick become a leader in the light steel automation space with a global reputation for innovation, quality and steely reliability.

Howick started out engineering one-off machines to do everything from shaping copper piping for refrigerators, to making ice cream, to coil paint coating lines. Each machine was a custom-made solution. Then Howick moved in to specialising in light-steel roll-forming machines for construction. This enabled us to build systems and tooling for everything from creating the components for garden sheds right up to framing multi-level buildings with up to 12 storeys.

Howick’s belief in innovation was locked in in 2003 when the business opened a special research and development facility for roll-forming services. Howick has hosted the International Innovation Conference on two occasions. ‘Firsts’ include the development of the Speedfloor machine for roll-forming steel flooring components, the capability to roll-form load bearing components in light steel for high-rise buildings, and recently in 2020 the launch of a new machine that manufactures extendable, telescopic panels for interior and infill framing.

Investing in R&D

Research and development capabilities were improved in 2016 with the installation of new CNC manufacturing equipment and followed up in 2017 with the arrival of a 200kN universal testing machine to increase R&D capacity and product testing. The company has received several awards over the years recognising its innovative approach, including the ExportNZ Best Medium Business Award, the Westpac Award for Excellence in Exporting and the Metal Industry Innovation Award.

Give it a go attitude fuels innovative spirit

Innovation is an attitude that persists throughout the business. In the words of Nick Coubray, CEO “Anyone can come up with an idea for a different way of doing something. And if we think it will fly, because we manufacture everything in-house as far as machine designs, control and hardware is concerned, it is relatively easy to give it a go. We can try stuff, and if it doesn’t work, nothing ventured, nothing gained!”

Innovation is about looking out for tomorrow

This focus on innovation is about looking out for the future and looking at where Howick can add the most value for the construction sector. Again, in Nick’s words “You know that today is important, but tomorrow is more important if we look at it from the point of view of how we leave the world in a better state than we are currently in. We are a small part of solving the global housing shortage and hopefully we can contribute to that and help some others along the journey as well.”