Waratah Celebrates 40 Years of Business in Tokoroa, New Zealand

13 Waratah employees helped with planting and clearing the popular walking tracks adjacent to the large river, Waikato.

2013 marked the 40-year anniversary of Waratah doing business in Tokoroa, New Zealand. Waratah began in 1973 when a local entrepreneur in Tokoroa started an engineering business, focusing on the pulp paper and hydropower stations on the nearby Waikato River. In 2000, Waratah joined John Deere as part of the acquisition of Timberjack, a world leader in forestry equipment production.

Waratah designs and builds Forestry harvesting and processing heads at the Tokora factory. These heads are normally attached to excavators. Waratah Tokoroa produces the 600 series heads. The Waratah HTH616C is used for processing small wood, working behind a buncher, or cutting and delimbing at the stump. The Waratah HTH626 is designed for large timber by harvesting, debarking and cutting the stem into accurate logs.

Waratah’s 40th anniversary celebration took place in two parts: a community volunteer day and a factory open house.

Community Volunteer Day

Left to right: Jemma Needham, Diane Moss, Murrey Totton, Josh Little (center), Nigel Ball, Phil Waterhouse, and Matt Bidois lend a helping hand at Community Volunteer Day.

“Through Community Volunteer Day, we wanted to share Waratah’s important milestone with the Tokoroa community, and also thank the extremely supportive township with a day where Waratah employees participated in a community improvement project,” said John Alemann, general manager, Waratah, New Zealand.

The community projects were selected from applications responding to an advertisement in the local newspaper. The key requirements were that the projects must be not-for-profit organizations, they must benefit the immediate community Waratah works in and the projects must be completed within one day. Some of the community projects included: refurbishment of a community soup kitchen, landscaping and cleaning the exterior of a retirement home and weeding and building a berm for a community mountain bike track.

“Although the community projects were hard work, it brought the team together and it was a fun and rewarding experience,” said Alemann. “Employees are now asking for this event to be an annual occasion.”

The day ended with employees enjoying a barbeque at the Waratah factory and sharing stories of the day’s events.

Waratah Factory Open House

A stainless steel removable handrail was designed, fabricated, and installed at the Tokora community pool. The handrail is used by young swimmers who are learning to swim.

More than 300 people attended the factory open house where there were factory tours, a Waratah simulator operation, giveaways, children activities and more.

“The event was aimed at sharing what our business and facilities are all about with families, past employees, local dignitaries and customers,” said Alemann. The South Waikato District Council Mayor, Neil Sinclair, and his deputy, Jenny Shattock, were in attendance.

“A highlight was the exhibition of the range of Waratah heads, including the first 622 machine built,” said Alemann. “The machine belongs to Waratah and will be donated to a local Timber Museum to depict the industry history of the region.”