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Rayglass To Supply $NZ3.4 Million America's Cup

Rayglass To Supply $NZ3.4 Million America's Cup Fleet

27 March 2002

Rayglass Boats - which produces a range of Legend and Cruisemaster trailerable powerboats, and Protector rigid hulled inflatables - has achieved an average of 35% compounding yearly growth and turnover is expected to reach NZ$20 million for the financial year ending March 31, 2002.

Tony and Vicki Hembrow took over Rayglass in 1985 when it was a small, struggling enterprise with only two models and the company's spectacular growth, extensive product development and strong branding have been achieved entirely out of cash flow.

Their success has been recognized by an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year (Manufacturing) award in 2001 and a Westpac Trust Emerging Exporter of the Year Award in 2000.

A significant portion of turnover and product awareness can be attributed to Rayglass' involvement with past and present America's Cups. It supplied the umpire and patrol craft for the 2000 Louis Vuitton Challenger Series and America's Cup regatta and it has once again been chosen as the boat builder of choice for the 2002-2003 cup season.

The Louis Vuitton Challenger Series and America's Cup regatta are independently run and Rayglass won separate contacts to supply the umpire and course patrol fleets required for each of the 2002-2003 events. Each agreement is for 14 Rayglass Protector 8.5m umpire boats and 20 Rayglass Legend 2150 course-marshal boats with a total product value of NZ$3.4 million.

Many more Rayglass Protectors will fill associated America's cup roles, including Louis Vuitton's camera boat, Auckland Regional Authority's three patrol craft, two on-the-water ambulances and Auckland Volunteer Coast Guard's Protector fleet. TVNZ may also use Protectors for camera boats. Rayglass Boats Managing Director, Tony Hembrow, says the total value of Rayglass product circulating on and around the race course could easily reach NZ$10m.

He says the last America's Cup in 2000 was a great success for Rayglass, particularly its Protector range.

"The boats were introduced to an international market through the global TV audience, spectators who traveled to NZ to watch the event, syndicate members and officials," says Hembrow

Export receipts increased by over 1200% in 2000-2001 and Rayglass Protectors are now sold internationally through four distributors - Protector Europe, Protector UK, Protector USA and Protector Australia.

Local sales of Protectors also reflect the company's overseas success and Hembrow says most superyachts capable of carrying a Protector have purchased one when visiting New Zealand, and many America's Cup syndicates are using them.

Defenders, Team New Zealand, utilise a comprehensive fleet of Rayglass boats including a 20m, twin Yamaha diesel powered towboat that is the world's largest production RIB. Team NZ also run three 12m, three 8.5m and one 7.5m Protectors, all Yamaha powered; Alinghi Challenge will run a similar fleet and there will be Protectors among the Victory, Oracle, Stars and Stripes and One World challenges.

Local sales and exports of Rayglass' Legend range have also increased at a fast pace. Rayglass have a joint manufacturing agreement with Whitley in Australia (established 1996) and have recently signed an agreement to distribute Legends in Asia.

It has also recently reached an agreement to manufacture and market the Yellow Taxi brand of RIBs seen operating around the Viaduct Basin and Auckland Harbour.

To meet demand Rayglass operates two manufacturing plants. It purchased a third factory last year - one 50% larger than its main manufacturing facility in Ben Lomond Crescent, East Tamaki - but Hembrow says this is already too small to meet future requirements and it will not be commissioned, but rented or sold. "We will leap-frog that facility and purchase a factory that will allow for further expansion."

Even though strong marketing initiatives such as its America's Cup contracts, exposure on American TV programme Baywatch and locally produced Gone Fishing, extensive national and international advertising and consistent representation at European and American boat shows have generated demand, product development, customer satisfaction and quality have not suffered. In fact, high levels of all three have helped drive the company's success.

Rayglass commits 3% of turnover to R&D, strives to minimize warranty issues and operates a no-unhappy-customers policy. Rayglass Legends and Cruisemasters over 6.2m, and all Protectors, are built to commercial survey standard and are inspected by an independent surveyor four times during construction.

The company's innovative designs and high build quality have resulted in a total of 15 awards won at nine New Zealand Boats Shows held in Auckland each June. The new generation 1950 and 2150 Legends won four awards in 2001, including the 2150 winning Best New Release, Best Trailerboat and Best Boat Overall.

With independent judges regularly identifying Rayglass product as amongst the best produced by New Zealand's fiercely competitive and oversubscribed powerboat industry, resale value remains high. Even though the 2003 umpire and course-marshal fleet will not become available until the conclusion of the America's Cup regatta in March 2003, all are pre-sold. Rayglass have a maintenance contract on the fleet and after the Cup each boat will be serviced, checked and reissued with full-term hull and engine warranties before delivery.

Recent statistics put Rayglass in New Zealand's top 50 export companies and the third fastest growing exporter. Hembrow says if negotiations already in hand are successful, the company will sustain its 35% growth rate throughout the next financial year, despite its already significant expansion and turnover.

"We are always looking for innovations, whether it's in design, boats, or our international partners," says Tony Hembrow.

"This industry moves quickly and our competitors are always looking to overtake us."


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