Following the completion of a $5 million plant upgrade, MonierBrick is about to shift to 24 hour production to meet increasing demand for its bricks in building construction.
Hamish Aitken, general manager of the West Auckland-based manufacturer, says brick’s market share of building claddings has grown from around 30% in 2001 to just over 50% currently.
There are a number of factors fuelling the growth, including a renewed attraction to the strength and security features of brick, and weathertightness, Mr Aitken says.
“Customers are also starting to design more creatively with bricks, so not only is it an economical, reliable and secure building product, it is also an aesthetic product that is being used in new and different ways.” New product development at MonierBrick has helped to develop the aesthetic appeal, offering greater choice in colours and mortars.
“The popularity of recent new product launches has been beyond our expectations. New brick ranges are selling out as fast as we can manufacture them,” Mr Aitken says.
This is the result of a product development process that began two years ago, and involved the use of leading New Zealand colour consultants who assisted the company to reinvent its colour range.
This is not a simple process, as the natural colour of the clay from which a brick is made tends to dictate the fi nal colour result. New sources of clay and improvements to the kiln have been necessary to transform the consultants’ colour concepts into reality.
In addition to product development, MonierBrick is taking a leading role in addressing key problems facing the building industry. It has joined the CMS Future Proof Building initiative to contribute to the improvement of building quality.
It has also linked with other brick suppliers to form an industry association to help address the problem of a shortage of skilled bricklayers. The group is working with training providers and other related industry associations to develop a training plan for young apprentices throughout New Zealand.
The association also has a role in promoting the use of bricks in residential and commercial markets.