From our enviable lifestyle opportunities to our central location, our well-educated workforce and our minimal commute times, Manawatū is a great place to live, work and do business. Hear from some of the business leaders that choose to call Palmerston North city and Manawatū home.
Alistair Davis, former Chief Executive
Toyota New Zealand
Toyota New Zealand is a wholly owned subsidiary of Toyota Motor Corporation, Japan and in 2017 celebrated 30 years of vehicle market leadership in New Zealand.
Based in Palmerston North since 1977, originally with just a Parts Warehouse, Toyota’s New Zealand head office has since expanded to become the National Customer Service Centre.
In 1991 when the National Customer Service Centre opened Toyota employed around 60-70 people. This number has steadily increased as Toyota’s business has grown. Toyota now employs 213 people and occupies more than 20 acres in Palmerston North – which Chief Executive Alistair Davis says is difficult to find in large cities.
It is a convenient location for freight for Toyota parts that get shipped nationwide direct from Toyota’s Warehouse, as well as being an ideal location for conferences and nationwide training.
“Staff loyalty is strong as national head office jobs generally are an attractive option in Palmerston North. The city gives a balanced perspective to the pulse of New Zealand.”
Colin Philp, Chief Information Officer
Having been based in the Manawatu since 1905, we know a thing or two about the benefits of living and working in this fantastic region. FMG’s first meeting was held in Palmerston North on June 6, 1905 and it’s remained our base, establishing our head-office here in 1978.
FMG is a nation-wide, Kiwi-owned rural insurance business. We have 300 employees based in the Manawatu – that’s half our employee base and our head-office remains in Palmerston North.
Some companies move their head-office to the big smoke, we don’t see a need to do that and we literally moved down the road, with the Mayor of Palmerston North commenting at the official opening of building that our commitment to the region further underscores the message that provincial New Zealand is open for business.
So why the Manawatu for FMG?
Being a specialist rural insurer, it’s important that we operate where our clients are and stay connected to our provincial regions. Of course, we also need access to skilled employees, quality suppliers and industry partners. Palmerston North has the best of both worlds.
Within our new office we have a wide and diverse range of roles including our Claims team, Inbound Consultants, Equine, Commercial and Lifestyle Block Specialists, and multiple IT roles. Having an agricultural university in Massey on our doorstep helps make it one of the easiest places for us to recruit in the country.
Being just a stones-throw from the Capital, means we can stay connected with our Wellington office on a daily basis. Its infrastructure and cultural hub make Palmerston North a desirable place to hold events. Earlier this year we were able to host over 600 of our employees for our two-day, One Team Conference.
There is a sense of easy-living being in the Manawatu. Minimal traffic, a thriving retail and events scene and quick access to beaches, parks and cycling tracks makes a big difference. Home ownership is still a reality for most, and you have the option to live an urban or rural lifestyle. It’s not often we hear our people complain about a lengthy commute or a lack of places to eat.
Personally, working in Palmerston North was an easy decision to make, after many years commuting to Wellington and Auckland from the Kapiti Coast where I live. Now, the drive to and from work, whilst almost twice the distance, is on average saving me hours every week due to avoiding the grueling peak hours in and out of Wellington and there’s the bonus of enjoying this magnificent rural landscape on the bulk of the drive. Once here, things are just easier. Easier to get about, easy doing business with people that seem more relaxed, and easy to get involved in a community that is excited about its future.
It’s also proving easier than I thought to attract Technology talent into roles. FMG is a great employer, offering real career opportunities in IT. We also get to offer those careers in a place that has all the features of NZ’s bigger cities, but with affordable housing, easy living and plenty to do.
Abby Thompson, Chief Executive
It’s a challenging and exciting time for the global food industry as evolving customer demands and new technologies create huge opportunities to reinvent our food production future. We’re here to help companies explore the best ways forward for developing their ideas and connecting them with the right scientific resources to make them happen.
At FoodHQ, we harness the ideas and collective thinking from one of the world’s leading clusters of food expertise and facilities – over 2500 researchers and food experts mostly located within a square kilometre of our base in Palmerston North.
Many people are completely unaware of the wealth of talent and capability we have right here within our local Partner organisations: AgResearch, Fonterra Research and Development, Massey University, the New Zealand Food Safety and Science Research Centre, Plant & Food Research, and the Riddet Institute.
We are working to increase the profile of our FoodHQ collective, boosting visibility of the great work already being undertaken and helping further develop New Zealand’s leading food science and innovation precinct.
Sarah Vining, National Marketing Manager
Plumbing World started in Palmerston North in 1964 and since then has grown to become the largest, 100 per cent New Zealand-owned, plumbing merchant with branches nationwide from Kerikeri to Invercargill. While head-office is in Auckland, two-thirds of Plumbing World’s support staff are based in Palmerston North and enjoy an easy commute to the CBD, fantastic schools and recreation options, and easy access to the central and lower North Island.
National Marketing Manager, Sarah Vining, says staff are focused and passionate about their work as they have a better work/home life balance. This can also lead to increased productivity as staff do not have traffic congestion and delays to deal with, can get to meetings easily and can therefore fit more in to the working day.
“Having our Support function split between Palmerston North and Auckland (where our suppliers are based) works well for us. Palmerston North is an easy drive from Wellington, New Plymouth, Taupo and Hawke’s Bay, with lots of flight options to and from Auckland and Christchurch. The cost of living is lower, reflected in salary packages, property rents and this reduces operational costs.”
With so much diversity in Palmerston North we have a great office culture with people from all walks of life and all ages, which makes for an interesting mix of people to interact with every day. Plumbing World are proud to have our Support Function in Palmerston North for over 50 Years, it is a central location for our 48 branches with 25 per cent of them within driving distance to Palmerston North, which is fantastic for training and workshops.
We also support several local initiatives as well, such as Kind Hearts, Arohanui Hospice, Relay for Life and local fundraising days for SPCA, Salvation Army etc. Palmerston North is certainly a viable hub for a business of any size.
Simon Barnett, Founder
OBO was born in Palmerston North in 1994 and from day one, was seen as a niche, globally focused business. Today, OBO meets the needs of field hockey goal keepers in 62 countries, enjoying a global market share in excess of 70 per cent.
From Palmerston North, OBO operates a tightly focused manufacturing plant which operates 24 hours a day and undertakes all product development in the city. Founder Simon Barnett says OBO has a virtually zero staff turnover, and most importunately everyone involved has a real heart for the business.
“Staff enjoy the ease of leading a high-quality family life, with marvellous schools and a safe environment. There are excellent hospital services if needed, second to none facilities for almost every sport imaginable, and a wide range of outdoor activities with easy driving distance.”