Growing heavy engineering company IMG has taken over the Stevenson Group’s engineering division as it expands into the extraction industry. ALAN TITCHALL explains.
Many years ago Bruce Bonner started his career at Stevenson Engineering in Auckland as an apprentice and grew through the ranks until he became general manager in the late 1990s.
He remembers his time there fondly, which is just as well for the current employees because he now owns the business.
Bruce is the managing director of Integrated Maintenance Group (IMG), which bought the Stevenson Group’s engineering division, SEL, in early February this year. This makes Bruce a significant player in the heavy engineering sector.
“There’s a lot going on in the sector, and it remains a very competitive market with lean margins,” he says.
“There are, however, economies of scale and in that light, the acquisition of SEL presents further opportunities for growth. The consolidation of premises, including IMG’s exit from our Wiri workshop, with its high overhead, gave us rent to equity ratio that was sound.”
Also based in Auckland, IMG is a privately owned family business with more than 20 years’ experience in the heavy industrial sector. Bruce says the expanded company, which grew instantly by 30 percent with the acquisition, intends to be the foremost company here in the heavy industry maintenance and project space.
The Stevenson Group now becomes an anchor client of IMG, he says, which will continue to maintain and service the Stevenson Group’s mining and quarrying heavy equipment.
“Stevenson Group wanted to divest their engineering services division as it was not a core business function, and IMG are in active growth and diversification mode.
“I see this as combining two good companies to make one great company.
“IMG has earned a reputation for innovative thinking and quality work for our maintenance services to the steel sector.
“We have since diversified into the forestry industry, and now the acquisition of Stevenson Engineering launches us into the mining and aggregates sector.”
Bruce says there are still some ‘old faces’ at SEL that he knew back in his younger days while working there.
“Which is a testament to the family and business ethos that Stevenson Engineering and IMG have in common.
“We remain a privately-owned family business, and we’re growing rapidly because our philosophy is relationship- based in the way that we treat our clients and our staff.”
IMG general manager Andy Skelton says Bruce has always had a very strong passion for heavy diesel and quarrying and mining and you can tell this when you are in his company.
“Bruce is not a conventional business owner, he’s very entrepreneurial about opportunities, and driving those opportunities to provide customer service and quality service to the market.”
“So when the opportunity came up to purchase this business it suited his IMG portfolio very much.
“We haven’t been into quarrying and mining directly before, however there’s lots of synergy between the two businesses.
“The other thing is the capability of this engineering shop in terms of what it provides. It gives us another angle where we could provide a far better service to the market then what we currently do as IMG. I’ll use the terminology ‘all the stars aligned’ to create a great opportunity to grow the business.”
Andy adds “because IMG are totally independent we can supply an independent service to the market, without being aligned to any particular brand or supplier.”
“It would be an addition given the market growth at the rate we are currently seeing. By all accounts this growth phase is not going to end tomorrow and we see opportunities both large and small.”
Andy says IMG is also working closely with Stevenson Mining, providing engineering support as a subcontractor at the Rotowaro mine near Huntly.
Generally, IMG wants to become a big player in the quarry and mining engineering support market, he adds.
“We believe we’ve got the capability and skills to do that. We’ve got some great people we’ve inherited here with good skills in engineering maintenance.
“It has been a market that has been neglected over the past few years in terms of apprentices and recruitment of young people and we have invested in apprentices already.
“We recognise, while we need some short term strategies we also need a long term strategy and for us that’s about apprentices.”