It may only be 7mm in size, but the Queensland fruit fly poses a significant hazard. It is Australia’s #1 horticultural pest, and if it were to establish itself in New Zealand, it could jeopardise our entire horticulture industry (worth $5 billion a year) seriously impacting our export trade. Urgent action was necessary to contain any possibility of a fruit fly outbreak, starting with prominent signage in the area.

It’s a given that Speedy Signs franchises around the country pride themselves on prompt, high-quality service – and never more so than when a project has national significance.

It may only be 7mm in size, but the Queensland fruit fly poses a significant hazard. It is Australia’s #1 horticultural pest, and if it were to establish itself in New Zealand, it could jeopardise our entire horticulture industry (worth $5 billion a year) seriously impacting our export trade.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) currently has 7600 traps set around the country looking out for over 100 species of fruit fly. In February 2019, one single male Queensland fruit fly was found in Devonport.

Urgent action was necessary to contain any possibility of a fruit fly outbreak. The area would have to be put into a ‘fruit and vegetable lockdown’ so no homegrown fruit could leave the area while inspections increased.

It was absolutely critical to contain the area - immediately. Not a moment could be wasted. The first course of action would be to notify the public with prominent signage in the area.

Speedy Signs Hamilton had worked with MPI previously and when they contacted owner Antony Joll, he leapt into action. His business had recently experienced a fire, so he contacted Chris Cooke at the Speedy Signs Albany franchise and engaged his help. Chris had the capability to print and install the necessary signage and MPI could continue to keep contact going with Antony while the work was carried out. The cooperative relationship among the franchisees meant there were no time delays and no extra costs incurred.

While prompt service for every customer is always a priority, this time it was mission critical. “It was all hands on deck, areas had to be contained very quickly so we had to get signage made and erected to make sure fruit and vegetables did not leave the area,” Antony said.

MPI had briefed Speedy Signs of the signage needed and the urgency of the situation – and as it would happen, it was on a Friday. By the end of the day, Speedy Signs had erected four signs and by Monday around 30 signs were in place. As MPI carried on inspections, expanding their network of traps and visiting residential homes, Speedy Signs was hard at work printing, framing and installing signs notifying the public that they were in a fruit fly zone and what restrictions were in place.

Besides the urgency of the situation, there were other obstacles. The large volume of timber required at short notice proved to be a challenge to overcome. In addition, installing the signs meant researching maps and planning precise sites for the signs to be placed, while managing traffic to ensure the job was done safely.

Shortly after the project was complete, another fruit fly was discovered in Northcote and Otara – meaning the whole process had to be repeated.

The coordinated effort of the two franchises meant these massive jobs were tackled quickly and efficiently and weekends didn’t slow the Speedy Signs crew down. As Chris at Speedy Signs Albany puts it: “These pesky fruit flies would invariably be discovered on a Friday so we had to work right through the weekend – but it was a great feeling to be able to help, and be involved in something of such national importance.”  

If you need signage fast, call 0800 SPEEDY or visit speedysigns.co.nz.

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