Arson makes for ‘testing year’

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Having survived what it says has been a “baptism of fire” over the past 12 months, recycling enterprise Wastebusters says it is financially secure and optimistic the next year will see the company back in the black.
Wanaka Wastebusters Ltd ended the 2015-16 financial year with a “small deficit” of about $15,000, chairwoman Sally Battson told The News this week.
“We are happy with that, as we recognise that the organisation could have been more severely impacted financially by the fire that occurred at the Alexandra site last year.”
The fire gutted the reuse shop, staffroom and recycling plant at the Boundary Rd site.
Police arrested and charged an Alexandra man in connection with the arson attack on January1.
First established in Wanaka in 1999 and in Alexandra the following year, Wastebusters now employs 43 staff at the two depots.
Speaking at the organisation’s annual meeting on Thursday last week, Ms Battson said Wastebusters was “rebuilding cash reserves” as insurance claims had been met.
The arson had made for a “testing year”.
“We were fully insured, which helped relieve the financial pressure, but the fire has placed huge demands on the time and resources of our general manager and staff.”
General manager Sue Coutts, who lives at Hawea Flat, had “worked an extraordinary number of hours” and never failed to go the “extra mile” travelling daily to the Alexandra site.
“It’s testament to the resilience and commitment of our staff that we have managed to grow and improve our Wanaka site while rebuilding and streamlining the Alexandra site,” Ms Battson said.
The board was happy with the small deficit and the year’s operating revenue of $1.8million derived from recycling, reuse and education services.
“We faced extra costs in providing all the information required by the insurance company and improving equipment and facilities rather than just replacing like with like.
“We also lost two months of trading for the Alexandra shop while the site was cleared ahead of a container ‘pop up’ shop being established,” Ms Battson said.
However, despite flat prices for recyclable materials and tough competition, the recycling side of the business had “picked up” and 555 Central Otago and Wanaka businesses now used the organisation, Ms Battson said.
Alexandra people had shown they loved the container shop, which sells clothing and household materials.
“It has become a real point of difference.”
Quotes for building a new, permanent shop were being obtained.
“Overall, we are optimistic about the next 12 months, including being optimistic that we could achieve a small surplus at the end of it.”