The Samoa National Provident Fund facilities, where Yazaki Samoa had spent 25 years in, is under new leadership.
And when it was officially handed over to new investment companies Fero Samoa and SleepWell Samoa in partnership with S.S.A.B, it marked the beginning of a new era at the Vaitele industrial area.
Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi paid homage to the legacy of Yazaki while recognising the excellence in the companies who have stepped in to fill the gap and benefit from the purpose built facilities.
“For the best part of the last three decades, this facility has contributed greatly to the economy of Samoa and its G.D.P,” Tuilaepa said (see speech). “The former tenants, Yazaki Samoa, manufactured quality wire harnesses for export to the Australian vehicle manufacturing market since the early 1990s.
“Since then, thousands of Samoans have been employed in this place enabling them to contribute to the wellbeing of their families and to the economic development of our country.”
Tuilaepa formally introduced the two companies who stepped in to fill the large gap left behind by Yasaki and revealed that the government was working on securing other possible tenants.
“In addition to these two companies to which we are handing over the keys this morning, the government, through the efforts of the S.N.P.F., is very close to securing other possible tenants for Building 3 and other areas of this complex in order to maximize the economic output from this facility.”
Tuilaepa also acknowledged and thanked the New Zealand High Commission for their financial contribution in refurbishing the premises to accommodate the new companies.
“It is in this regard that we were able to secure grant funding assistance from the New Zealand government to assist the S.N.P.F. in revitalizing this complex for the new tenants,” he said.
“A special note of gratitude is extended to his Excellency David Nicholson and his team at the New Zealand High Commission in Apia for their exemplary efforts in conjunction with the team at the S.N.P.F. in securing this commitment in a very short time.”
During an interview with the Samoa Observer, David Nicholson was confident that the monetary investment into the facilities was going to enhance Samoa’s economy by boosting local employment and attracting more investors.
“We have already given the government NZ$1.5 million for N.P.F to remodel the factory into three factories,” Tuilaepa added.
“We are hoping that in addition to that, all the access ways can be supplied so that each of the companies has individual access to the buildings and separate facilities.
We think in talking with the C.E.O. of the N.P.F. that we may also have enough money there to attract a call center and enjoy the facility for them keen to get lots of jobs lots of exports of services or goods out of our investment here.
“I think there is a great environment here for Samoa, for companies to come here and set up employment opportunities and to export from here. We know from Fero, for example, that they can be highly competitive in exporting goods from here because the labour rates are good.
The cost of production is good, the quality of the workers is high and the quality of the goods produced is high. So we have got to thank Yasaki for the training and skills that they put in place that I urge other business to come in and capitalize on that.”
At the end of the ceremony, Managing Director of Fero Samoa, Sam Fulton, took the government officials, the New Zealand High Commissioner and board members of S.N.P.F. on tour of the facilities to view the renovations.
Mr Fulton told the Samoa Observer that business was warming up as the company was settling in.
“We’ve been sampling and getting everything set up and commissioning all the machinery and this we started doing some production runs this week,” he said.
“Christmas has come at a bit of an inconvenient time this year, where when we are just about to get going and then we have to stop, going and then stopping. January is going to be it and that’s when everything is going to kick off.
Everything is going well and the team coming on board is doing really well.
“We will get our Australian operation going. We have got a couple of ex-Yazaki employees in Australia starting up on the 15th so that will be getting their business and setting it up here.
We already started doing a bit of work for Victoria ambulances and a bit of lease work. So it’s just starting to trickle in, but the New Year will be when the flood gates open up and we’ll be up to it.”