Fiji engineering firm eyes NZ market

A group that began as a small air conditioning and refrigeration business in a shed on the Nadi Back Road in Fiji has grown into a hi-tech engineering outfit with state-of-the-art CNC machines and robotics.  

Kevi Reddy at the controls of a state of the art CNC machine in Nadi.
Kevi Reddy at the controls of a state of the art CNC machine in Nadi.

With a quarter of a century’s worth of experience in the refrigeration and light engineering industries, the J Kevi Group has forayed into manufacturing quality engineered goods for the consumer export market around the Pacific Islands region and beyond. It has recently completed the construction of a large tooling, fabrication and manufacturing facility entirely dedicated to exporting its products.

“It’s 100 per cent export oriented,” says Kevi N Reddy, the group’s youthful Chief Executive Officer. Mr Reddy earned his degree in Mechtronics from the University of Western Australia and spent a few years’ designing and building industrial kitchens for QSR brands around Australia. He returned to his native Fiji a few years ago to assist his father Narendra Reddy to run and expand the family business.

The group, which has grown from just a couple to 100 employees and from a 120sq m space to 6 acres of land and building, manufactures an array of hardware components for the local building and construction industry. Its products are widely used in quality fittings for Fiji’s upmarket hospitality sector. It also sells and distributes utility vehicles like golf carts and industrial scale lawn mowing equipment.

Kevi Reddy - J Kevi Group has plans to launch a range of engineering products for the NZ retail market in the building and automotive sector.
Kevi Reddy – J Kevi Group has plans to launch a range of engineering products for the NZ retail market in the building and automotive sector.

The new line of engineered consumer products for exports comprises profiles, toolboxes, Ute-mountable trade boxes made of metal and others directed at the automotive professional and hobby markets in New Zealand and Australia.

The products are designed and crafted with the latest in CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machine technologies. “This is the first time that such advanced machines are being used in the Pacific Islands region,” Mr Reddy told Pacific Periscope when we visited the group’s new plant in Nadi.

A new high-tech robot welding plant built in the United States is soon to join the shop floor. Again, it’s the first of its kind in the region, with only eight such machines in New Zealand, according to Mr Reddy. “Our products are all designed and manufactured to exacting New Zealand and Australian standards,” Mr Reddy said.

While using the best of materials and processes of a standard approved in New Zealand and Australia, Mr Reddy believes that it is Fiji’s lower overheads and operating costs that gives the group a price advantage. “While the standard of the product is the same as that made in New Zealand and Australia, the production costs are lower, therefore offering the same uncompromised quality for a lower price for consumers in those countries,” he adds.

The group is preparing in right earnest to launch its line in New Zealand in the next couple of months. It has already incorporated a company in Auckland. Pacific Trade & Invest (PT&I) NZ Trade Development Manager Ian Furlong said PT&I was working with the J Kevi Group, helping establish a distribution network in Auckland. As well as New Zealand, Mr Kevi said the group was planning to export also to Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Vanuatu.

Mr Reddy hopes Fiji’s engineering sector will rise to the occasion and become an attractive and cost efficient manufacturing hub for the New Zealand and Australian markets, with the advantages of proximity, an English speaking workforce and the same materials and manufacturing process standards. “We are proud of using the Fijian Made logo,” he says.

The group plans to make its products available in New Zealand before year end.

For more information, please email PT&I Trade Development Manager Ian Furlong at ian.f@pacifictradeinvest.co.nz

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