David Thompson Posted:
So very, very true. It beggars belief that we consider ourselves to be a developed nation when so much of our economy is based on selling milk powder or logs. BTW, I own a Plinius amplifier (my second) that drives a set of Theophany speakers.
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David Thompson Posted:
A robust but sobering report. It concerns me that confidence is rising, yet sales and exports are down and "manufacturers and exporters are still lagging behind other sectors". Surely we should wait until we're earning more money before we start spending more?
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siemens Posted:
Yes true! The only thing that will never die in this world is the nature and its science behind it. Great post.
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Kieran Ormandy Posted:
Thanks for the question Steven, Germany has seen increases in manufacturing employment since 2009, and Switzerland has had stable manufacturing employment between 2006 – 2011, even in the face of ongoing Euro-zone issues. Korea has seen increases in manufacturing employment since 2008 and Israel experienced large increases since 1998, while being stable over the last 4 years. Singapore has had increases in manufacturing employment over the last two years. These countries all value their manufacturing sectors and work to protect them, this is reflected in the above numbers and their performance through the GFC. Note data around the above examples was sourced from OECD labour market stats.
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John Walley Posted:
Point one: you should have no doubt what our Association says publically represent the views of our members. Point two: we don’t knee jerk responses, if you trace back our comments around NZPower you will see them link all the way back to our research in 2004 and 2005. All that material is fully linked from our comments above. Point three: you will note our comments on major users, sadly the same advantage does not accrue to smaller industrial users. The perverse incentives of the LRMC approach in all this are well known. Point four: the NZMEA is not like any other Association in New Zealand we admit only manufacturers and exporters into membership, and our public expressions are the views of that restricted membership.
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High Value Manufacturing Article - Syft Technologies

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The following is an article written by NZMEA President Brian Willoughby. He is writing a series of articles based on interviews with various high valued added manufacturers in New Zealand. These articles originally appear in BNZ Chief Economist, Tony Alexander’s monthly newsletters.


I was able to sit down with Doug Hastie from Syft Technologies, to discuss the company, as well as his views on the New Zealand economy and business culture.

Syft Technologies evolved from research conducted at the University of Canterbury in the early 2000’s. They produce a world class mass spectrometer device for trace gas analysis. This has a wide range of applications and operates within a multi billion dollar market. To date, around 98% of their sales have been exported into areas ranging from container air analysis, environmental research, medical analysis and food and flavour applications.

The nature of selling scientific instruments means the customers tend to be very conservative; creating a barrier to entry Syft needed to pass before becoming generally accepted as a reliable, capable and quality option; meaning converting sales can take time.

They have a great product and staff but their issue now is boosting their sales focus; “getting out there and knocking on doors.” Previously, they have lacked this sales focus and it has been one of their biggest challenges. In the past most of their sales have been direct but they are in the process of building a distributor network around the world to fuel sales. “This is how the big competitors in the market operate and it makes sense to do the same, especially operating out of isolated New Zealand.”

Doug sees this lack of sales focus as a common problem throughout New Zealand, “The New Zealand mentality has too much focus on making and building, rather than selling; ultimately though that is where the money is made. New Zealand has great engineers and scientists, but the worlds worst sales people. People look down on sales people, when in reality we need them to create value and profit. Selling is a skill; it is problem solving, listening and being the filter to provide a solution. We tend to think selling is talking, but it’s more listening.”

Doug is a big believer in aligning all stages of the manufacturing chain, from design to sales. If there is a high level of understanding between each stage of the process they can adapt and organise to be more efficient as a chain. This is a focus that could be utilised more in New Zealand.

Syft’s product has a fixed price in the world market that is determined by where the competition lies, meaning they cannot adjust their price to soak up currency changes; appreciation directly hits their margin. “There is margin in our product, due to being high value, but the higher dollar makes the relative cost of all our staff here a lot higher.” says Doug.

Doug believes investment incentives and trends are a big issue that stops more high value manufacturing businesses like SFYT from forming and being successful. “There is too much focus on property investment in New Zealand. The way you change that is by changing the banking system, as the banks presently are incentivised to lend to property and not to business. We have to change the mentality of New Zealanders to invest in these types of commercial business. There is risk, not all of them will be successful, but if you do it properly there will be some that are successful to pay the way. These things need to be better capitalised, there has to be a realisation that they might lose money in the beginning, but it’s for the long term goal.”

“New Zealand as a country is not aggressive enough in terms of selling and growing. There is a lack of confidence to aim higher. We have a tendency to blame little things, when really there are bigger issues.”

tags: brian willoughby, doug hastie, syft, exports, manufacturing, high tech


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