For New Zealand beekeepers to produce the World’s best honey, they need the highest quality equipment in processing and extracting. Filling that need is what drives CrystechNZ, who have built a reputation for not just providing the equipment, but ongoing support and servicing to keep the honey flowing.
Honey is unique when it comes to food processing and the equipment required to carry out that work should reflect that, CrystechNZ manager Jamie Grainger believes.
"Have you tried to poor a cup of milk versus a cup of honey?” Grainger asks.
CrystechNZ was established by people with experience in manufacturing equipment for the dairy industry, through parent company NZManufacturing, so the example is one Grainger and his team have lived and are expert in.
"We've been in the business of building honey equipment for coming up 13-years,” he explains.
“We provide everything to get the honey out of the box and into the jar, right through from the extraction process into the drum, then also from the drum to the jar. For us it is about providing a service for our customers where we don’t leave them in the lurch. We stand by our products.”
That range of products is wide and caters to clients with honey operations of all sizes, from garage setups to some of the country’s largest extraction and packing facilities, and it keeps a team of almost 20 staff busy from their Tauranga base.
While Grainger is quick to emphasise his team’s services by means of their ongoing support to clients, CrystechNZ’s broad range of products offered to industry has made their equipment common place around the country’s honey facilities.
No less than 52 products adorn their catalogue, the majority of them manufactured from their Tauranga workshop. Everything from honey dehydrators, crystallisers, mixing tanks and uncappers to individual valves or filters – and plenty in between – can be supplied.
“We’ve got a team of top-notch fabricators and we stress quality workmanship,” says Grainger, who has spent almost all his working life in stainless-steel fabrication or beekeeping.
CrystechNZ made their name – literally – in the technology of honey crystallisation (frequently referred to as ‘creaming’) and that ingenuity continues today. Creating bespoke extraction and processing systems has been, and is, key to their role in the honey industry.
“Everyone's different, everyone's got their own ways of doing things, so we're not going to sit back and tell everyone how to do it. Despite our experience now, often the people we deal with have been in the honey industry for many more years than we have. So, we like to work with the customer and try and build something to fit their scale,” Grainger says.
Once the most appropriate equipment has been manufactured and installed, there is still work to be done.
"Over the years we've gained a bit of traction, and some good customers, by priding ourselves on service – backup service breakdown service – and made our name that way."
That can make for some busy times, especially in summer when the phone can run hot as extraction sheds hit full-noise. Faults can often be diagnosed and remedied over the phone, while two service technicians are on the road in the North Island, and a workshop and service van are waiting in Christchurch for when technicians fly south to visit clients.
"Our clients can call pretty much anytime because, if a hot room full of honey needs to be extracted and some equipment goes down, it needs to be sorted pretty efficiently,” Grainger explains.
Following the blueprint that has got them to this point, CrystechNZ are continuing to develop their product range by working with clients and adhering to the philosophy “there is always something to improve”, Grainger says.
While that may be the case, the CrystechNZ equipment is already common place in New Zealand’s honey facilities. Continuing to play their essential role in the honey supply chain is what drives their team, and it has its rewards, the manager says.
“I'd like to think we've done a lot with most companies across New Zealand, we've been with some of the big game players almost from the start. From the top of the North to the bottom of the South, we've got a quite a bit of equipment out there now that's tried and true, and some of our clients are exporting some of the best honey in the world,” Grainger says, adding, “It's pretty cool to know that we've made the equipment that has helped make it."