New Zealand Manufacturer recently asked Stephen Snedden, the inventor, where he finds his inspiration and when it all began.
NZM: When did you become an inventor?
SS: As a young boy tinkering in my father’s shed with go carts and motor bikes and school projects. Dad was always working out solutions for problems as a self-employed electrician in his good old kiwi Shed.
NZM: What was the first thing you made?
SS: At high school doing workshop technology I was encouraged to do night school Jewellery class with Peter Hook. During the School C year we had to make a flint lock pistol, a knife, and pouch and brass cannon. It became a competition between all the class mates to do the best job. I managed to get top in my school for the School C year for workshop technology and technical drawing must say the ability to investment cast small parts helped a lot,
NZM: What is your latest project?
SS: My latest project is a rotational mould for a boat trailer body that can carry my boat but is also multi use as it can be used for a Jet Ski trailer or as a kids Slide on the water’s edge. It can float and be used as a floater to play with or for accessing boats on the water. It has 500 kg of flotation and can easily carry 3 paddlers, as a canoe. I have noticed after researching that no one’s supplying floating jet ski trailers worldwide so I’m going to see if I can make the market,
NZM: What are you passionate about?
SS: My family.
I’m passionate about being able to create what we can dream of, being able to vision a product and draw it and then simply apply this to make it a reality. It really gives me a kick to see things come to reality from the drawing board. A lot of the time one is working against the grain on any new project, especially when it’s your idea as it don’t pay at all until it’s successful
NZM: What inspires you?
SS: My children and grandchildren, they motivate me and I’m inspired by the challenge of becoming successful and seeing people love and appreciating what I have created.
I always get a buzz when people say great things about the product, trying new technologies moving into new fields that once I hadn’t dreamed of such as moulding large plastics products. It’s always a thrill and inspires me to reach even higher goals,
NZM: Tell us about the Cubby Cabin?
SS: So far with my Seahull boat I have kept things rather like pizza base as there is a lot of options and I had to settle somewhere; for example, mk1. Also, I didn’t want to spoil the image with some wacky looking cabin so for now I’m just keep it simple. We do however have plans to do a front wind shield with cuddy cabin and a custom soft and hard top for the future, we have already done side and centre console open boat,
NZM: How is interest in SeaHull going?
SS: Seahull is going very well and has been making consistent sales in New Zealand We are becoming well known around the world through sites like LinkedIn and things have changed a lot since we are moulding the boats ourselves.
People understand we have the knowhow and we have cut costs considerably to be able to compete and allow enough meet for dealers.
We currently are discussing with some of the world’s largest rotational moulding companies to make and market the Seahull range of products under licence for their local areas This is very exciting as we always knew it was area franchisable.
NZM: Who is your role model?
SS: My father. I always admire him for his inventive mind and good character, he tells people he is proud of my success with the boats; even through the toughest of times he has always been a help.
NZM: What is next on the drawing board?
SS: I’m planning a range of new boat moulds up to eight meters and possibly a portable bed room, one piece all six sides complete with insulation and inner and outer lining all done at once.
NZM: How do you see the NZ business environment at present?
SS: There seems to be a lot of help for mentoring and advice which is good for ideas but no good for help in the workshop.
I like that we have the best technology, machinery and materials easily accessible.
However, there doesn’t seem to be enough support for development of new ideas. Some university students get it on a plate but in the private sector you to pay full price for everything, especially as a small business.
It seems out of line how the small guy has to pay more than corporations. In earlier days supporting companies were more likely to help- now they won’t unless there’s some serious money on the table. No support and all this does is push us to work out another way to do it ourselves to save $$ or look to head overseas.
We pay too much for everything. The more we can team up and share workshops and tools and resources and support one another, the better. We could easily be one of the most innovative manufacturing bases in the world.
If you want to do it on your own in NZ get use to the idea that everything you have got and make will be going into paying overheads which means less time and money for development of the ideas.