Construction of a marine vessel nears completion at Yamba Welding & Engineering.
Construction of a marine vessel nears completion at Yamba Welding & Engineering. YWE

YWE acquires NZ company, promises jobs on horizon

YAMBA Welding & Engineering is set to ramp up its workforce after buying the design company it has partnered for the past decade.

On March 31 the locally-owned boat building business successfully acquired New Zealand company Naiad, who has designed vessels built by YWE since 2010.

In a statement announcing the sale, Naiad directors said the acquisition will allow for the retirement from full-time activity of founder Steve Schmidt and his wife Jenny. Steve will continue on in a part-time design consulting role.
"Over recent years Steve has been working closely with the design team passing on his huge knowledge and experience. This ongoing role will ensure that handover activity continues," the statement read.

"The sale will see the Naiad design and support team remain located in Picton (New Zealand), and all relationships with international licensed builders will continue unaffected. Naiad will also continue to work closely with its New Zealand contract builders for local boat sales.

Under the ownership of "highly respected marine industry figure" Bill Collingburn, YWE will look to grow existing relationships established by Naiad in Australia and overseas markets, including China and USA.

For instance, there will be "no change to the arrangement with Naiad's highly successful Australian west coast builder Kirby Marine, who over the last 20 years have built 250 Naiads for police, fisheries agencies, tourist operators and rescue agencies, as well as the stunning high-end recreational boats they are probably most famous for", the statement read.

YWE managing director Bill Collingburn said the acquisition meant greater control over where and how vessels were built, and as a result he expects to grow his Yamba-based workforce, where in 2019 he employed 34 people with an average age of 28.

"When the company came up for sale we saw it as a way forward to lock in our future work with defence, marine rescue and other organisations," Mr Collingburn said.

"Naiad designs military and paramilitary vessels, as well as commercial and tourist vessels, and have a great reputation worldwide.

"The sale means more control over the design function.

"We think this will at least double our current staff here in Australia within the next 12 to 18 months."

In recent months Mr Collingburn has travelled to Oman, Singapore and Malaysia with a view to "timeproofing" the company and build its list of exports.

YWE partnered with NAIAD in 2010 to exclusively build its vessels throughout NSW, Queensland, Northern Territory, Pacific Islands and Australian Commonwealth Departments.

"The relationship between Naiad and Yamba Welding has gone from strength to strength since Yamba's appointment as a licensed builder in 2011," the Naiad statement read.

"Together they have achieved significant sales to various federal and state government agencies as well as a good cross-section of commercial and rescue agency business.

"(YWE's) commitment to quality and customer service has seen the business go from strength to strength."

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