17 Sep
17 September 2019

Manfeild a happy 'home' to Higgins

THE civil construction company that brought Manfeild into being five decades ago is today using the venue to bring new careers into life.

Civil trades and operator practical training as well as seminars by the Palmerston North-based icon business Higgins are a regular feature at the Feilding venue.

The annual Operator Boot Camps since 2017, leadership conferences and specialist skills training have drawn a massive participant count and enabled the firm to teach new skills, current best practice and expand the knowledge base of hundreds of their staff.

This year’s activities have included training in asphalt paving, chip sealing and pavement construction operators and a technical skills workshop for foremen.

In addition to those activities, Higgins also use the venue for leadership conferences.

Head of Strategy John Bryant says the team at Manfeild make it a breeze.

“They are such a professional team and have gone the extra mile for us on multiple occasions …. it’s a real pleasure dealing with Manfeild.”

The involvement is a fresh chapter in a partnership story that started in 1970, when a firm that today is a massive multi-million dollar national venture with thousands of staff was simply D Higgins and Son.

Then came a job that would massively lift the profile of this father-son local business: Turn a swamp and rough rural landscape on the outskirt of Feilding into a motor-racing circuit.

Reprofiling that semi-rural property into what has become the home of the New Zealand Grand Prix, a track offering fantastic racing and the greatest spectator viewing in the southern hemisphere, was both a magnificent opportunity and a huge challenge.

The end result? A place of realised dreams that has cemented an enduring and remarkable relationship.

“Higgins and Manfeild are tied by history and also by friendship,” says acting CEO and Manfeild Park Trust chairman Gordon Smith.

“We are so delighted that Higgins not only remains firmly connected to our facility but is also now nurturing a new engagement that sustains its, and our, future.”

Higgins, in turn, says Manfeild makes it easy.

“They’re a great team to work with,” says head trainer Greg McBain, citing two powerful factors for the facility – space and people.   

“The open space at Manfeild has provided many opportunities for practical, hands-on training on the heavy machinery and equipment used in our industry.

“Working closely with Manfeild staff, we have been able to bring heavy equipment on site and have operators practice using it ‘for real’,” he says.

“We have built a road and chip-sealed various existing roadways, providing our operators with the opportunity to learn in a safe environment, while leaving an improved asset behind.

“The Manfeild Arena also provides some insurance against the Manawatu’s variable weather.”

Palmerston North branch manager Shaun Donovan says having access to such a high-quality facility is good for business.

“The use of Manfeild allows us to provide so much more in the way of training options and, being centrally located, it has proven a popular venue for staff from throughout the country.”

Higgins can conduct a wide range of both theoretical and practical training “which in turn drives up the quality of our skills base and workmanship across the business.

“The ability to use our own machinery in a live training environment makes for more interactive and beneficial training for the team.”

The bottom line, he adds, is that using Manfeild enables Higgins to produce better outcomes as a business and provide great quality for its customers, not only locally but throughout New Zealand.

“If you ask me that’s what I call delivering success.”