Thursday, August 18, 2022

Super wool set to soar with new factory

Wisewool buys Te Poi wool plant in Waikato to meet demand for its products.
Wisewool sales and marketing executive Harry Urquhart-Hay (left) and head of operations Angus Hansen are excited about their family’s engineered fibre.

Targeting the high-end market with a revolutionary engineered fibre that captures wool’s unique natural properties has moved closer to realisation for niche manufacturer Wisewool.

Allwool Limited, trading as Wisewool, has purchased the Te Poi wool plant in Waikato to meet growing demand for its revolutionary Wisewool products.

The plant purchase at Te Poi is extremely opportune for Allwool Limited and its Wisewool products, Wisewool chief executive Henry Hansen said.

It will increase the manufacturing ability for its three unique products – Wisewool Buds, Wisewool Cloud and Wisewool Needle-Punched Blanketing.

“We are planning a large new factory and new machinery for our company base in Gisborne – however, that project is realistically two to three years away,” Hansen said.

The Te Poi plant purchase means Wisewool can start immediately supplying its  products to the New Zealand furniture market and affiliated industries, satisfying the growing demand for its new products.

The revolutionary material is engineered by intertwining wool fibres into tiny spring-like buds that enhance its inherent bounce and resilience while retaining wool’s incomparable natural attributes. 

“The market appears very keen to start replacing the existing synthetic ingredient products with Wisewool’s 100% natural wool products,” Hansen said.

Wisewool’s network of farmers in the Tairāwhiti, Gisborne region supplies the strong wool used in the Te Poi plant. 

Each bale is accompanied by a certificate of farm traceability highlighting the property it was sourced from, complete with its GPS location. 

The company’s head of operations, Angus Hansen, will oversee the Te Poi factory. 

Wisewool is a revolutionary engineered fibre that captures and accentuates wool’s unparalleled natural properties. 

It is produced by Allwool Limited, a family business of the Hansens of Tairāwhiti, Gisborne. 

The family’s ties to the wool industry in the region go back to 1894, when their ancestor William Henry Smith moved to the area. 

Allwool is dedicated to increasing wool value and creating revenue opportunities for its growers. 

The Wisewool initiative came alive when covid-19 sent New Zealand into lockdown and Hansen initiated conversations with the family to investigate the wool industry’s future viability and means of adding value.

Wisewool was born 2021 with revolutionary machinery imported from the United Kingdom, and product development of the new super wool began.

Smith’s great-great-grandsons Angus Hansen and Harry Urquhart-Hay joined Wisewool in operations and sales and marketing.

Family member Nicky Hansen was also brought on board to lead innovation and product development.

Urquhart-Hay said demand soared with endless applications of Wisewool fast becoming apparent, prompting the purchase of the Te Poi manufacturing plant to keep up with the unprecedented interest meantime.

A bigger plan is in the works. 

Designs for the new Gisborne factory and manufacturing facility are developed and scheduled for completion in 2025.

“The end goal is to set up a massive manufacturing hub in Gisborne, where we not only manufacture our Wisewool, but also include an education space for wool and provide a platform where farmers and industry stakeholders can congregate and mingle,” Urquhart-Hay said. 

Wisewool began from a desire to bring the wool industry back to its best. 

Wool has long been a cornerstone of Aotearoa’s industry and identity, but when a sharp shift in consumerism saw manufacturers side-tracked by synthetics, the famed natural super fibre fell from favour. 

Wool prices took a hit, and farmers bore the brunt of it.

“We had to do something. With five generations of wool handling in our family, we felt a responsibility to our whenua and community in Tairāwhiti Gisborne, so we created a super wool,” Urquhart-Hay said. 

“Now, a growing environmental awareness is seeing the pendulum swing back in favour of natural and renewable fibres. 

“Product origins, composition and sustainability have regained their rightful value, and our 100% natural, organic, and chemical-free Wisewool is leading the charge.”

The 100% wool needle-punched blanketing is a resilient sheeting designed and manufactured in the Te Poi factory.

As a versatile and tear-resistant material, it is an exceptional internal padding for furniture upholstery and bedding.

Urquhart-Hay said Wisewool Buds were the first release and remain the best-selling premium loose-fill product. 

The buds are independent clusters tightly knit for a dense finish, making them highly resilient and ideal for use in furniture and upholstery fill.

A lighter loose-fill alternative, Wisewool Cloud, offers all of the natural benefits of the Wisewool Buds but in a lightweight finish, making it ideal for use in pillows, cushions, mattresses and insulated apparel.

“We can really get going now as we target high-end product use of Wisewool in both the local and export markets with the end goal for us being able to pay our farmers more for their wool,” Urquhart-Hay said.

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