CR Automation managing director Peter Jenkins.
An award-winning industry automation specialist is set to significantly extend its market reach thanks to a new equity partnership with a horticultural heavyweight.
Following recent collaboration on a number of projects, CR Automation (CRA) has decided to sell a 50 per cent equity stake to Jenkins Group – a key industry player throughout Australasia’s horticulture post-harvest industry.
With subsidiaries in New Zealand and Australia (Tauranga-based Jenkins Freshpac Systems Ltd and NSW-based J-Tech Systems PTY), Jenkins Group provides an extensive range of labelling, packaging and handling systems to the fruit and vegetable industry across both countries.
Hawke’s Bay-based CR Automation provides automation, robotic and post-harvest solutions to a broad range of industries including food and beverage, water and wastewater, materials handling, cool storage, meat and wool processing and general manufacturing.
Managing Director Peter Richards says the 18-year-old tech company has experienced exponential growth over the past three years and has been looking for an equity partner who could help sustain that growth and ensure longevity.
“We wanted a partner founded on similar ideals who would add value and provide market access beyond our existing client base,” Richards explains. “Jenkins Group are an innovative, family-owned company with 136 years of success behind them. They are very client-focused and trade with a high level of integrity which is an excellent fit for us.”
Innovation is at the core of both companies, and CRA won the “Most Innovative Solution” award for ABB robotics at the 2019 ASIA Value Provider Conference.
Richards says he is immensely proud of the engineering capacity the CRA team has developed and recent growth was primarily due to a strategic initiative of developing bespoke material handling and machinery for a broad range of industry players.
“Jenkins were very impressed by CR Automation’s engineering capacity and its diversity. They felt some of our engineering services and products would complement the sectors that are core to them including apples and kiwifruit, but were very interested in CR Automation’s specialisation in water and wastewater, and machine and functional safety as they recognise the high demand for these services,” he says.
“I’m excited to see our company’s potential realised through this new equity partnership with Jenkins Group and we’re looking forward to seeing what the future holds.”
Managing Director of Jenkins Group, Tony Sayle, says the combination of skills, products and services that the two organisations can now provide across a wide industry segment is “formidable”.
“The Internet of Things (IoT) and automation are clear requirements for our horticulture sector to excel and thrive in a global economy and soar through its ambitious target of being a $10 billion industry by 2020,” Sayle says.
“This new partnership will provide industry leading produce handling capability to a post-harvest industry screaming out for efficiencies and solutions to its labour supply woes and escalating compliance needs.
“CR Automation are a world class developer and provider of automation and control systems. Our horticultural clients will certainly benefit from their services and products and together we intend to lead the field across post-harvest produce handling, FMCG production automation and municipal asset monitoring.”