GREENMOUNT ESPIES: wide-ranging solutions with a competitive edge

Greenmount Espies has grown from the small cabinetmaking business that Graham Russell, the managing director, bought in 1986 to an organisation with more than 110 employees based in East Tamaki on manufacturing sites encompassing some 8,000 square metres.

3D Greenmount Espies continuously invests in specialised equipment: 3D manufacturing is achievable from models of any scale.

Over the years Greenmount has integrated several local operations into the business to expand its skill set and capabilities, and grow its client base. Those operations have included Espie Shop Fitting in 2015 and Fennec Joinery in 2018. The firm has modern machinery, specialised equipment and a talented and experienced pool of workers capable of undertaking large-scale projects.

Dale Pikett, sales and marketing manager for Greenmount Espies, says: “We continue to focus on providing custom solutions to our customers’ varying needs. We have a wide pool of expertise to bring to the table and many years of combined experience in the industry.”

Greenmount Espies’ extensive and well-equipped factory and large premises allows it to offer turn-key interior fitout solutions to a wide range of clients – mainly in the commercial, hospitality and retail sectors. Its capabilities extend to contract production for other sectors such as kitchen, vanity, wardrobe and campervan clients.

Camp&Vanity The firm’s extensive contract manufacturing includes campervan interiors and bathroom furniture.

Skilled workforce

Pikett says that to meet the varied demands of the firm’s clientele, management has built up a team of skilled people offering a range of capabilities. “These include solid surface fabricators, cabinetmakers, machinists and painters, joinery estimators and quantity surveyors, CAD operators and production managers … right through to joinery installers and project managers.

“We have cabinetmakers capable of doing solid surface work using Corian and HI-MACS, including thermoforming of complex shapes.”

Over the last two years Greenmount Espies has been involved in some of Auckland’s largest commercial projects, such as:
• Auckland and Wiri prison packages
• joinery, acoustic panelling and atrium cladding at the new University of Auckland Engineering Technology
  Department building
• University of Auckland Science Division fitout, and
• interior refurbishment and acoustic panelling at the Aotea Centre.

Continuous investment

Pikett adds that to keep up with changing demands and technology, the firm continuously invests in specialised equipment – thus enabling the production of each component to a high level of finish.

“Some of the machines currently on our premises include six CNC machining centres for routing and drilling, a 5-axis CNC machining centre, three edge banders, two BAZ machines which router, drill and edge-band shaped panels, a 3D laser scan, beam saw and pressing equipment. We also have a gas-heated painting booth, plastics fabrication, steel and aluminium fabrication, as well as all the traditional joinery equipment … making Greenmount Espies one of the largest machine shops of its kind in New Zealand.”

A recent reconfiguration of the firm’s manufacturing facility has increased its machining capabilities – notably through the installation of an additional CNC machine capable of working with 3,600 x 1,830 sheets, and a new laser edge bander.

Pikett says that while Greenmount Espies’ approach to any given project is holistic, “… we understand that the nature of every project is different, and the scope will therefore vary. Our products and services are customised to suit individual needs. In many cases we work with architects and design companies to achieve the best results in terms of budget, quality and time management.”

TeTohu The award-winning He Tohu Document Room: wind-blown rimu carved on Greenmount Espies’ 5-axis Chronos CNC machine.

Case study

Prominent among the wide-ranging projects undertaken by the firm is the He Tohu Document Room at the National Library in Wellington – winner of the supreme award at the 2018 NZ Wood-Resene Timber Design Awards.

The room houses three of Aotearoa New Zealand’s most important founding documents: the He Whakaputanga o te Rangatiratanga o Nu Tireni – Declaration of Independence of the United Tribes of New Zealand (1835); Te Tiriti o Waitangi – Treaty of Waitangi (1840); and the Women’s Suffrage Petition – Te Petihana Whakamana Pōti Wahine (1893).

Because of its specialist capabilities, Greenmount Espies was contracted to individually carve some 480 laminated blocks from wind-blown rimu on its 5-axis Chronos CNC machine. The timber had been harvested by helicopter following the devastation caused to native forests on the West Coast by Cyclone Ita.

Greenmount Espies was responsible for the project feasibility analysis, construction drawings for manufacture, cost/project management, and fabrication/production/construction – and worked with the Fletcher Construction team to ensure a successful installation.

The carved solution was crafted at all levels throughout the design and construction process, utilising a collaborative approach with the client’s team and stakeholder advisory groups, and engaging early with the contractor and suppliers.

Pikett says multiple CAD technologies through to prototypes and samples (including 1:1 mock-ups) were used during the design process to explore various methodologies – and to eventually create the wall-blocks and ceiling panels.

The wall-blocks were dowelled together with 0.5 mm tolerances to allow the rimu to naturally move over time. Greenmount Espies’ 5-axis CNC machine not only created the shapes but also formed the services penetrations. Each ceiling panel was hoisted into position using 3D-coordinates, and then hung by threaded rod for accurate adjustment and braced using tension wires.

The room has the complexity of a building, the scale of a large room, but the craft of a piece of furniture. Rob Stevens, the Client Project Manager, acknowledged Greenmount Espies’ contribution: “What was interesting is how something so mathematically perfect, created with computer and machine, can produce something so organic and beautiful.”

TheLoop The LOOP, Auckland International Airport: the complex design resulted in a number of challenges across various materials and sub-trades.

Retail/hospitality fitouts

The firm has also developed a strong reputation for its retail fitout projects, including The LOOP at Auckland International Airport and Boardertown at the Tauranga Crossing regional shopping centre.

The LOOP involved setting out full-sized ceiling and floor templates on site to guarantee accurate construction and assembly. Its complex design resulted in a number of challenges across various materials and sub-trades – all competently dealt with by the project team.

At Boardertown, Greenmount Espies was responsible for the project’s building and electrical work, flooring, shopfronts and shop fittings. It also assisted with design development to ensure a high-impact and user-friendly end product.

Among the firm’s array of completed hospitality projects is the impressive Milse & Ortolana restaurant in Auckland’s Britomart. Working in close collaboration with Cheshire Architects – whose complex design was inspired by Islamic latticework – Greenmount Espies manufactured some 1,100 individual triangles from 12 mm Keruing plywood. With no two components the same, the firm’s 5-axis CNC machine proved essential in the execution of the design.

Boardertown&Milse Left: Boardertown, Tauranga Crossing: Greenmount Espies was responsible for the project’s building and electrical work, flooring, shopfronts and shop fittings. Right: Milse & Ortolana, Britomart: the firm’s 5-axis CNC machine proved essential in the execution of the design.

Competing successfully

Pikett says the firm’s competitive edge in the New Zealand market is due to a number of factors. “We are known for our quick turnaround times. Our extensive machining capabilities and capacity allow us to produce products efficiently and take on major projects. Combined with our skilled staff we are able to deliver great solutions to meet the needs of our diverse client base.”

Michael Smith