“In New Zealand, we’ve predominantly been raw material exporters,” says Sequal CEO David Turner. “Sending raw materials overseas is so easy but we really hate to see our logs being exported in that raw form when we should be adding value to them here.
What Sequal’s doing is novel in the timber processing industry – and that’s because it’s hard, says Turner. “It’s not easy but there is definitely demand for mass customisation. We've sold out of capacity to fill orders for the remainder of this year despite markets being lacklustre.”
Business was booming in 2019 due to signing a few large deals with overseas clients. But along came Covid and with it operational challenges.
“We were in a really interesting situation where we lost our ability to ship to our export markets in one particular area by containers. So we had to start chartering ships, which was a big change for us, and that completely changed our working capital requirements.”
That’s when the relationship with Kiwibank, which began three years ago, proved to be vital.