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From Small Famly Business To The Big Time

Media Release


Hayes International, a Rotorua company that started out in 1960 as a small family business has been awarded a Trade New Zealand Export Commendation for increasing overseas sales of its rollforming machines from $10 million to $15 million in the past two years.

General Manager Mike Lowe says Hayes International’s outstanding export growth in the two years ending December 2000 is largely the result of strong sales of its rollformers machines to the USA, and to a new market, Turkey.

Rollformer machines are used mainly in the metal building industry. They take flat steel, usually in coil form, over a number of forming passes and shape the steel into the profile required. Corrugated iron is the most commonly recognised product produced by the continuous rollforming process.

Hayes International was nominated for the Trade New Zealand Export Commendation by the Minister for Trade Negotiations, the Honourable Jim Sutton, who was impressed when he saw the company’s sales manager in action during a visit to Turkey.

Mike Lowe says Turkey has been a big driver of the company’s growth in the past two years, with exports increasing from zero in 1999 to more than $2 million in 2000.

“Prior to a devastating earthquake in Turkey two years ago, steel was not a significant building material in that country. Following the earthquake, the Turkish Government reworked its building codes, promoting steel as a superior building material compared to traditional products. That resulted in a rapid increase in enquiries for the type of products we manufacture.

“With the assistance of Trade New Zealand and our own contacts we moved quickly to get a foothold in the market. We knew that the first companies into Turkey would be the most successful. As well as purchasing our products, our clients in Turkey also rely on our expertise to assist them in their decision making.”

Jim Sutton says Hayes International is another example of a New Zealand company doing exceptionally well selling Kiwi technology and innovation to the world.

“The company identified a new niche market in Turkey and acted rapidly to take advantage of that opportunity. They made sure to offer a product that fitted the local market requirements, and as a result have established themselves as the leading supplier of rollformer equipment to the Turkish building industry.”

Mike Lowe says while countries that have a mature metal building industry still dominate Hayes International’s export business (ie Australia and the USA), the company’s strongest growth is being generated by markets that have only just embraced steel as a building material, such as Turkey.

He says demand for rollformers is closely aligned to the economic prosperity or otherwise of a country or region – with the building industry being one of the first to suffer during an economic downturn and one of the last to recover.

To minimise its exposure to depressed markets, Hayes International’s strategy has been market diversification. It exports to 57 countries in all the main regions of the world – North America, South America, Asia, Australia, Europe, Africa, Middle East, Pacific.

“Our aim is to have the client depend on us as a consultant, as well as a supplier of machinery. This helps secure ongoing business because the client sees us as partner.

“We rarely use traditional agents to sell our products. Rather, we identify potential customers around the world and works with them to supply the most appropriate machinery for their needs.”

Mr Lowe, who was previously one of Hayes’ biggest Australian clients before coming to work for the company in the early-1990s, says Hayes International is a Rotorua success story.

“It started business in 1960 as a three-person general engineering company with the motto ‘We Make Anything’ – and they did. The family company used to manufacture everything from timber handling equipment, saw mills and woodworking equipment to forklifts, guillotines, flagon washers and parking meter straighteners.

“Over time it began to specialise more and more in rollformers. Today Hayes International employs 70 people and is recognised as a world leader in the design and manufacture of premium metal working equipment, in particular rollformers.”

Sold by its original owners, the Hayes family, in 1999, the company is now a subsidiary of US Bradbury Group, previously one of its international competitors. Mr Lowe says Hayes International continues to be operated as an independent operation, with responsibility for its own sales and marketing.

Trade New Zealand Regional Acount Manager Lionel Crawley says
Hayes International machinery has a worldwide reputation for its high quality technology and cost effective prices.

“It also has the ability and flexibility to customise its machines to the specific requirements of its clients, which helps it to win business against big competitors from the USA and Australia.”

Mike Lowe says Hayes’ competitive pricing is achieved partly through the favourable New Zealand exchange rate, but also through innovative and ‘smart’ design which enables the company to achieve production efficiencies.

“To achieve excellent quality control, we undertakes almost every aspect of the design and manufacture in our modern Rotorua factory, whereas most of our competitors undertake the design and assembly and outsource the balance of work to sub contractors.”

The company markets itself by proactively approaching companies it has identified as potential clients, by having large, distinctive signage on its machines (this generates a good number of enquiries) and through its web site (a Turkish client approached the company via their web site).

About 70% of business is repeat business. To help ensure client satisfaction, Hayes International installs its machinery and trains the staff who will be using it. As well as Rotorua, it has a dedicated customer services facility in Australia to service the Australian markets.

Mr Lowe says the company’s goal for 2001 is to achieve at least $18 million in foreign exchange earnings, by selling more machines to existing markets and by winning business in new markets - “We want to be selling to 60 countries by the end of the year.”


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