New steel importer increases client numbers


One New Zealand importer of fabricated structural steel says their new business continues to grow as public entities and private developments demand even more certainty around quality assurance.Steel bars

Challenge Steel claims it has set a “whole new benchmark” when it comes to quality assurance and comprehensive product testing, and its robust regime is drawing clients and helping lift the market’s confidence in imported fabricated steel.

“These products are not just passing through our hands,” says chief executive and shareholder Suresh Nagaiya.  “We inherently understand and manage the entire process from the steel mill to the final certification of our work and everything in between.”

That comprehensive project knowledge gives Challenge Steel a real advantage, the University of Auckland civil engineering graduate, IPENZ member and part-owner of a central Auckland project management company claims. “We completely appreciate the many multi-faceted demands of a construction project whether it be big or small and we can tailor our services to suit,” Nagaiya maintains.

Industry body Steel Construction New Zealand has recently authored papers proposing the ideal QA process and testing regime that imported product should follow, the University of Auckland civil engineering graduate and IPENZ member notes. “Challenge Steel is already effectively doing what SCNZ proposes as best practice, if not more.”

He says over past three years Challenge Steel has painstakingly developed a “world-class model” that ensures best practice at every step, comprehensive and traceable quality assurance and a robust supply chain. Subsequently not only do all Challenge Steel’s products meet the New Zealand standards, in many cases they exceed them.

“We’ve brought together the best people to ensure we raise the quality bar while simultaneously lowering costs. Only when all our systems and people were in place did we then start importing and installing fabricated structural steel this year.”

The company had its genesis after the Christchurch earthquakes when Canterbury businessman Bert Govan and his wife Annie flew to China in the search for emergency housing alternatives.

The Govans returned with an enduring relationship with the Shangdong Iron & Steel Group (Shan Steel) – a wholly state-owned steel conglomerate that produces over 30 million tonnes each year and is one of China’s largest steel makers.

The Govans subsequently established Challenge Steel, which has its own New Zealand staff on the ground at Shan Steel’s fabrication factory checking at source the process, product and its adherence to the required New Zealand standards. Samples then go to independent labs both in China and New Zealand for further testing and verification, while each steel product is also stamped with a unique code to ensure complete traceability.

New Zealand’s largest local territorial authority, Auckland Council, conducted their own random testings as part of the issuing of a building consent,” Nagaiya advises. “So there’s at least two checks completely independent of the producer both in China and here in New Zealand,” he adds. “In addition, Shan Steel’s own testing and quality standards are very robust.”

To ensure all systems and materials comply with New Zealand’s own stringent standards, as well as international ones, Challenge Steel works in alliance with a team of experts including Industrial Site Services Co Ltd, New Zealand Consulting Engineers Ltd, Southern QA Ltd, and Professor Emeritus George Ferguson of the University of Auckland’s Chemical and Materials Engineering Department.

 Nagaiya says quality fabricated steel procured at the right price can make the difference between a project being financially viable or not. “Challenge Steel’s three-dimensional computer software modelling ensures clients’ have their exact and unique specifications fully met.”