Starex is a family business that creates bespoke play spaces, furniture and resources for childcare centres across New Zealand. With a big focus on sustainability, the company strives to provide high-quality, long-lasting products made from healthy and sustainable resources.
Matt Cooke, Managing Director of Starex, explains that traditionally the childcare industry used lacquered MDF for furniture — a product which is durable and long-lasting, but doesn’t wear well. As the Starex business developed, Matt decided to look for a more durable solution. “It’s a very hard knock industry with constant cleaning, and we found the lacquered surfaces would break down,” he says. “We needed a product that would hold the aesthetic value longer and be more durable.”
The search for a more resilient product, paired with a growing passion for sustainability lead Matt to Plytech. “We went to Plytech because of their sustainability,” he says. “We felt confident with the sourcing and certification of the Plytech products.”
To create their children’s furniture, storage and resources, Starex opted for Plytech’s Eurolite HPL, a lightweight plywood finished on both sides with a high pressure laminate. By paying slightly more for a pre-finished product, they were pleased to discover they could actually save on costs as they no longer had to spend time coating and drying timber. “With Plytech we gained efficiency in productivity,” explains Matt. “We could manufacture faster as the product spends less time on the factory floor.”
The use of Plytech has come hand in hand with changes to the Starex business as they’ve adapted to trends for more sustainable and design-oriented spaces in the childcare industry. “We’ve moved from having a catalogue with items to taking on the centre philosophy and creating unique bespoke spaces for these customers,” explains Matt. “We look at each centre and adapt and create products to suit the customers’ needs.” The shift to designer children’s spaces has even seen Starex work in collaboration with designers Tim Webber, Think & Shift and Timothy John for a designer children’s furniture range, Starex inDesign.
Increasing demand for bespoke sustainable play spaces has also lead Starex to expand their use of Plytech’s products; in addition to Eurolite HPL, they now also use Futura HPL and Spectrum Eco. “Plytech are really good at finding and sourcing new product,” says Matt. “They’re constantly looking at working with us to improve our product and therefore improve the product our customers receive. That’s something we really enjoy.”
Matt looks forward to continuing to work with Plytech in the future as Starex continues creating industry-leading furniture, resources, storage and play products for designers, their clients and the children the spaces are built for. “It’s been a pretty awesome journey,” says Matt. “Plytech came on board when we were looking at changing a few things in the company — who we are and what we stand for. They pretty much embraced that and over the last seven years we’ve been on a bit of a journey together and it’s still ongoing.”