What started out as a one-man-band with not much more than a shipping container and a phone number has grown five-fold in the past five years. The family-owned Upper Hutt-based business Real Steel boasts some of the largest and most modern steel processing facilities in the country.
In 2002, with a degree in economics and experience working overseas, Luke Mathieson (Managing Director) joined his father in business. Real Steel has evolved to supply its niche products and high strength steel components to the transport, quarry, mining, engineering forestry and recycling industries. Real Steel’s high quality steel (imported from Sweden) has the advantages of being hard and tough without being brittle, allowing products to be designed with less joins which makes them stronger. For example, tipper bodies for trucks. Real Steel also fabricates robust steel components such as bucket teeth and wear plates for industrial vehicles and heavy machinery.
Having grown out of its original shipping container then workshop in Plimmerton, Real Steel made the move to Upper Hutt in 2007. Luke is clear about the many advantages of doing business in the area. “It’s the ideal place for us to be based. Upper Hutt’s manufacturing history and the talent graduating regularly from the Wellington Institute of Technology (WelTec) makes recruiting local staff with the right skills easy. The cost of leasing commercial space in Upper Hutt is cheaper than Seaview but we still have access to good transport links. We rely on a network of subcontractors, such as engineering businesses, based in Upper Hutt. Each of these factors has helped us grow very quickly.”
It has installed one the most powerful plasma cutters in New Zealand, and is home to one the largest steel press brakes in the country – two significant investments which reduce the need for manual labour and result in increased efficiencies for the company and its customers.
“We’re always thinking about designing products that have long term value. The steel we use is five times stronger than mild steel. It’s made from high grade iron ore. The way steel is made allows it to form or fold in a certain way, or not”.
Luke explains that “new technology has altered the properties of steel for the better, reducing its weight while increasing its strength. Such developments continue to impact on the cost of ownership for our customers e.g. a truck body that weighs less uses less fuel.”
With its team of staff including fitter welders, machine operators, mechanical engineers, industrial designers and sales representatives, Real Steel supplies its products throughout New Zealand.