Firstflex – Powering the Electrical Industry for 50 years

“As a preschooler, bunking down on a small mattress next to Mum’s desk.” That’s the earliest memory of the home garage turned warehouse/office for Firstflex Cables co-owner and Managing Director Lance Davis.

“Mum and Dad had the courage as well as the determination to start the business from scratch. They took the risk and figured out the way forward.”

Father Caryl, a young electrician with experience working for an electrical wholesaler and importing group in Auckland city, had seen the gap in the market for servicing the electrical industry in South Auckland; so he decided to start his own supply business.

“Pukekohe, Waiuku, Tuakau, Franklin and the Waikato – these areas were all unserviced. So back in 1974 Dad recognised that setting up a business in Franklin was close to a whole set of customers who otherwise had to go a long way to get to their nearest electrical branch. He saw the geographical advantage.”

However strong demand for electrical cable and imported components took over and so it was from the garage, that the business Firstflex Cables – formerly known as Aflex – was born. The business grew and moved to its own premises. In 1994 Lance joined the business, with brother Phil joining in 1999 to lead sales and business development.

Five decades on and the company is celebrating its 50th anniversary at its purpose-built facility in Drury South. The company was one of the first to build in the industrial precinct, which is set to become one of New Zealand’s largest industrial and residential developments. It too has a geographical advantage – with its close proximity to transport links for the fast dispatch of goods.

Built in 2022, the 10,000m² premises includes offices, a warehouse, distribution centre, electrical assembly line and quality verification testing area.  Firstflex cables not only meet relevant AS/NZS standards but must pass rigorous third party testing. Testing is also conducted at the company’s facility and performed under stringent inhouse quality assurance processes.

Today Firstflex Cables supplies the New Zealand electrical industry with a wide range of industrial cable and has over 85 series and three million metres of cable on hand. The company also has a comprehensive range of electrical components, connectors and accessories. It is a company that has experienced substantial growth in recent years for a modest team of 50 staff.

So what has contributed to its success? An in-depth understanding – of the industry, the market and the customer requirements, has been a contributing factor.

“Quite simply, it has been solving the needs of our customers. We listen, solve their problems and deliver what they need, when they need it.”

Listening, Solving and Delivering

When a local electrical wholesaler had a unique requirement for the NZ Steel Waikato North Head iron sand dry-mining unit (DMU), they worked in partnership with Firstflex to come up with a solution. Firstflex Technical Product Manager Dean Lipscombe says it’s the close partnerships the company has with its customers and suppliers that enabled a turnkey solution to be quickly implemented.

“We have trusted relationships with over 300 distributors and wholesalers nationwide to deliver off-the-shelf and custom solutions for their requirements. The New Zealand Steel DMU cable requirement was part of an 18-month project, that involved coming up with a unique design and solution for cables and equipment within the network, involving a high level of connectivity.

“The project engineer was looking for an 11kV cable solution that incorporated both power and data with the added requirement of being illuminated at night.  This cable needed to be flexible and comply with mining reeling and trailing cable standards. It had to withstand the harsh environmental conditions of the mine site while remaining flexible. This cable is critical as failure would shut down the whole mining operation.”

Dean says having the technical understanding of what was needed and Firstflex’s access to a global supplier base provided the agility to develop a solution quickly.

“Our combined team has over 250 years of electrical cable experience. We are also acutely aware of the AS/NZ mining standards and regulations. Additionally, we are continuously keeping abreast of what is happening in the industry. We attend international forums and work closely with our suppliers to understand what is available worldwide.

“Working with our international supplier base, Firstflex was able to supply a 35mm² three phase, 11kV cable with an integrated multi core fibre optic cable. Firstflex was also able to supply this cable with a patented reflective and fluorescent outer sheath, so that it can be seen on site at night. The customer also requested we supply plugs and connectors for this cable.  We spoke to a few mining operations in Australia and were able to supply a customised rugged solution to fit the needs of the mine site.  Furthermore, we sourced reflective bollards to keep this cable off the mining surface.

“Designing it with plugs and connectors rather than a traditional hard connection, meant that if the high voltage cable were to get damaged, it could be replaced with a supplied replacement cable and get the plant up and running again in the shortest possible time.”

Service and Operational Excellence

National Sales Manager James Teague says that being close to customers and market developments since the beginning has been key to advancement.

“Our relationships with customers are paramount. It’s the conversations we have with them. Listening and understanding their business so we can adapt to suit them and evolving to meet the ever-changing market.

“It’s a multitude of factors. We make it easy for the customer. We invest in our people so they are equipped to answer their call. It’s our product and service proposition: being on hand, on site and on time. We jump on things pretty quickly. We have same-day dispatch and overnight deliveries of under 25kg and an after-hours emergency call out service. Cables are metre-marked, cut to the metre, with no cutting fee.

“We have an extensive range of quality, proven products delivered in full when they need them. We work in partnership with our wholesalers to make it easy for the end user to get product fast. And we offer deep technical knowledge and expertise which is supported by a high touch service which enables the electrician to get the product they need – when they need it.”

Lance adds that operational excellence has also been a key platform for growth.

“Healthy growth has made us think about our facilities – the design and space to expand. It’s enabled us to grow our people, add to overall headcount and people strength as well as add specialty roles. Additionally, we’ve further streamlined processes and created operational efficiencies.”

So what hasn’t changed since the beginning?


Lance believes it’s the genuine care for people that sets the company apart – and it’s a culture that has been there since the beginning.

“We have so many good people on our team who really care for the customer, and they also care for each other as a team. There’s a lot of help and teamwork that goes into it. Businesses may talk about it, but it is actually very hard to emulate.

“There is so much strength in our skilled people and their collective ideas, that has got us to where we are today. Both past employees and current employees have contributed greatly to the business over many years.”

The Future

“We’re pretty excited about the future and will continue to invest in a broader range of product and invest in our people.

“Miniaturisation continues to occur with cable becoming smaller and more lightweight, energy efficient and environmentally friendly.

“Markets will continue to change and evolve with new sectors creating opportunities such as fibre and connection technology, smart factories, automation, robotics, renewable energy, energy storage and efficiency, smart grids and EVs. We are seeing there will be more plug and play options, making networks and equipment within the network easier to install.

“Firstflex has a clear strategy and a strong management and board structure. Our business philosophies underpin all that we do. We focus on the things that matter and this keeps us on track.  Decisions are made with a view of being here for another 50 years and beyond.

“We have a special group of people who will continue to listen, solve and deliver for the customer. If we’re solving the needs of the customer, then we’re on track. It really is that simple.”