New Zealander of the Year, Sir Paul Callaghan, says New Zealand needs more high tech enterprises that exploit niches in global markets, tread lightly on the land and sea, and yield higher revenues per employee.
Climate Surfaces is one such future global technology exporter building a reputation for its innovative powder coating technology, all from its homegrown New Zealand base in Mangere, where it employs just 12 people.
“We’re the first powder coating line for heat sensitive substrates (plywood, MDF, plasterboard) in the Southern Hemisphere and the only company in the world to powder coat plasterboard to create pre-finished wall and ceiling lining system,” explains Kyle True, Climate Surfaces’ general manager.
Customers include Carter Holt Harvey wood products in Australia and New Zealand, Fletcher Building (The Laminex Group NZ), BGC Plasterboard PTY LTD (Australia) and Gunnersen PYT LTD (Australia).
The company is bucking the downward trend in the building industry, reporting double growth figures for the past 18 months.
This month, the company also celebrates its tenth year in business and is actively growing its presence in Australia with big clients and distribution partners coming on board.
“Our future will be to find opportunities to license or sell our technology around the world,” explains True, whose company has had patents granted for Australia and New Zealand since 2007.
“Our way into export markets is our point of difference - we have validated the coating processes, products and demand during the past 10 years, providing a low-risk technology acquisition for international customers with demonstrable ROI’s,” explains True.
Shareholders include New Zealand’s leading private equity firm Direct Capital LTD and Stephen Tindall’s K1W1 investment group.
Investors are happy. Last year, revenue doubled and operations have increased to 12-hour days, six days per week - in a business climate that has seen average consent numbers down 25-30%. And they are not resting on their laurels.
“We’ve invested nine million to date into R&D, plant, sales and marketing development,” says True, who is working with Auckland University Materials Accelerator programme on additional R&D programmes.
The future looks good. The estimated market size for heat sensitive substrates like plywood, MDF and plasterboard is around 8-10 billion m/2 per annum. That’s significantly larger than the current mature metal powder coating market valued at US$5.8 billion.
“We’ve been exporting to Australia since 2003 with direct sales presence in Melbourne established during the past 14 months with significant growth coming from supplying products to end users such as Target, K-mart, and Australian Tax Office. Expecting to double sales in Australia again in 2012. Exports account for 30% of sales.”
Climate Surfaces is also aligned with New Zealand’s R&D and investments schemes to drive innovation for high value manufacturing with exportable products, services and IP.