For decades, a company based in a small Taranaki town has been helping workers across New Zealand and Australia stay safe on the job.
Argyle Performance Workwear, which develops and supplies safety and performance workwear and footwear products, has been operating from Hāwera, in South Taranaki, for more than 30 years.
Through user insights and trials, the company designs workwear, then contracts factories in Asia, India, and Australia to manufacture the Argyle-branded gear to its own specifications. The products are sold through safety workwear retailers and are worn at building sites, forestry blocks, industrial plants, and factories across New Zealand and Australia.
Started as a small, family company, Argyle has grown to become a market leader, employing more than 40 staff in total at its Hāwera head office and bases in Wellington and Christchurch.
Its success has also made it attractive to buyers. In 2014, Argyle was bought by Most Excellent Investments Ltd of Wellington, the investment arm of Most Excellent Holdings Ltd.
In late 2019, Argyle was sold to Paramount Safety New Zealand, the Auckland-based branch of privately owned Paramount Safety Products, one of Australia’s leading wholesalers of industrial and personal safety items. Paramount Safety Products employs more than 100 people and has offices and distribution warehouses in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Auckland.
Argyle Performance Workwear chief executive Craig Broomhall says the company’s success highlights that a quality, international business can be established in, and operated from, rural Taranaki.
“There’s nothing to stop good businesses developing here. And if you have a good business, it’s attractive to investors from wherever they are – investors who are looking to spread their portfolio across cities, regions, markets and industries,” he says.
“There are a lot of further opportunities for us in Taranaki,” Craig says. “Paramount really like the operation we have in Hāwera and want to grow the staff and the business. We have planned for expansion and that’s where we’re heading.”
Craig says there are ample opportunities for further enterprise investment and development in South Taranaki, and the business environment and connectivity are as good, if not better, than metropolitan New Zealand.
“Take, for example, property prices. We operate from a fairly new 2500sqm warehouse and 500sqm office in Hāwera. To get comparable floor space in Auckland or Wellington would be incredibly expensive. So we’re running our overheads on a lower base.
“We also have good transport links in and out of Hāwera, and reliable overnight service around the whole country, which is better delivery than what many companies have out of Auckland.”
Aside from a manager in Wellington, all of Argyle’s leadership team is based in Hāwera. Craig says the business has never struggled to attract talent.
“We have skilled, hard-working staff. Having a good business attracts good talent, wherever you are. The lifestyle in Taranaki is fantastic; it’s easy to get around if you commute, and the region is a great place to establish a business and operate from.”