Paul Adams, Managing Director of Stabicraft based at Invercargill discusses the company’s boat manufacturing strategies and where to the future.
Describe your company’s main areas of activity
The design, manufacture and export of recreational and commercial trailerable aluminium boats
What area(s) of the business are currently being developed?
We have 3 key areas being reviewed;
- Internal Capability – is one of our key areas working on sound lean initiatives with a view of the continued removal of waste in our processes, upskilling of leaders and managers to better adapt to growing market demands.
- Innovation through “Design Thinking” – Working on creation and recreation of a consolidated range of craft throughout the current recreational areas we sell and market in.
- Sales & Marketing – being close to all the latest marketing trends to best connect with our wide and varied customers.
Does the company place much emphasis/outlay on R & D?
R & D has been the core on our innovation journey. Our design team of 5 is planned to grow by 50% over the next 3 years. Stabicraft has been part of the Government’s “Better by Design” program since 2007, this program is to help companies embrace “Design Thinking” throughout the organisation. “Design Thinking” is about putting the customers’ needs first and this is not only the end user but also the internal customers within the business.
Where do you export to and where are future opportunities?
3 Key export markets are Australia, USA and the Pacific Islands. However we do also export to other counties around the globe, Australia is by far our easiest market being close and having similar needs and wants. While USA (having almost 12 million registered vessels) holds some real growth opportunities. Boating and fishing styles in the US are quite unique and different from that of New Zealand and Australia thus understanding the customer is key.
Our furthest dealer is in Zambia providing boats for fishermen and lodge owners on the Zambezi River.
How do you find current business conditions?
Positive and challenging with some of the new products we have and plan to launch. We have very exciting times ahead especially in a market where many brands have similarities. The challenging part is being able to differentiate and disrupt – which I might add we at Stabicraft have been doing since inception.
What assistance would be beneficial to your company’s growth?
Most notably a consistent stable $NZ. Export fluctuations can provide huge pricing challenges for exporters, these can be the difference between making and breaking a market. Access to latest trends in technology and being ahead of the curve for example; having the best 3D Cad software and being aware of the emerging technologies like robotics and where they may fit.
Staff. Is it challenging getting the right staff?
Access to recruiting key staff at growth stages can be challenging. We currently have three excellent internal apprentice training programs and are working with the Southern Institute of Technology in post grad intern placement and usage of International Students. Southland is known for its simple can do “Innovating” and as Southlanders we are working extremely hard to encourage people to experience the buzz that is happening here. Our Southland Regional Development Strategy is focused on having more people settle in the south and enjoy the attributes of this unique region.
The future. What is the 5 year plan for the company? Where to from here?
In this world of disruption even large companies can start and fail within 5 years. Key for Stabicraft is understanding customers unmet and unique needs to continue creating innovation and people wanting what Stabicraft has to offer.
We keep our strategic plan simple so our team can focus on their part to play with goals and measures to align with the strategy. Rest assured, we see many opportunities ahead and creation of time and space to achieve is the key.