Canterbury customwood factory to celebrate 40 years of innovation

Forty years after the first Customwood boards rolled off the production line, local manufacturer Daiken New Zealand is celebrating the development of the brand now recognised around the world, with help from members of the original production team.

In March 1976, the Daiken New Zealand medium density fibreboard (MDF) plant in Ashley, North Canterbury – the first of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere – began manufacturing a new construction product it named ‘Customwood’.

The company’s original general manager, Brian Stanton, who oversaw the development of the plant, is returning to the site on Friday 11th of March to tour the factory and “see for myself the progress made in those intervening years”.

That progress has been considerable, according to Daiken New Zealand Production Manager Paul Robertshaw, with the company – a significant local employer – establishing a reputation for introducing industry-leading technology and quality standards to meet the needs of markets around New Zealand and internationally.

“Starting with the earliest stages of production, when the company introduced a blowline blending technique that remains a worldwide standard in MDF manufacturing, the company has been recognised as a pioneer,” says Robertshaw.

“From focusing on stringent international environmental and emission standards to developing innovative new techniques to increase the strength and reduce the weight of Customwood MDF, for the last 40 years we’ve been producing world-leading products to meet demand around the world.”

The Customwood range, including its unique SuperFinish MR/SE0 board – the company’s flagship product, Asthma Foundation accredited and designed for end uses requiring a supreme surface finish – is a significant export for the Canterbury region, with products sold in major international markets including the US, Japan, Asia, the Middle East and Australia.

Stanton says he’s looking forward to discussing “the early history of Customwood and just where it is positioned some 40 years later.”
“The name ‘Customwood’ was devised by me and submitted to the Board of Directors for approval. That name is now well known worldwide.”

Robertshaw says it is a fantastic opportunity to recognise the heritage of the brand which has played a major part in the local region.

“We’re a very proud local manufacturer, innovator and exporter, and after 40 years we continue to make a considerable investment in local resources, people and the environment. It is great to be sharing this special moment with the company’s very first employee, who helped establish the legacy of the Customwood brand.”