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Navman Wins Export Award

Tuesday 9 April 2002

Navman NZ Ltd,

Navigating International Waters - Navman Wins Export Award

Navman NZ Ltd, an innovative Auckland-based electronics company specialising in the design and manufacture of marine and land-based navigation products, has won a Trade New Zealand Export Award for developing a $30 million annual export business.

(Media are invited to attend the Navman Export Award presentation by the Hon. Pete Hodgson, the Minister of Research, Science & Technology, on Tuesday 9 April, at 13-17 Kawana Street, Northcote, Auckland, at 2.30pm. The Trade New Zealand Export Awards are sponsored by DHL Worldwide Express.)

Starting out as an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) making marine navigation components for established overseas partners, Navman launched its own brand in 1995, embarking on a worldwide strategy to grow its business. Almost completely export focused, sales of Navman brand products around the world account for more than 75% turnover, with OEM making up the balance.

Navman President Peter Maire says after launching its own brand – releasing an astounding 14 new products into the consumer marine market at one time – export growth has been progressive, increasing ten fold in the past four years and expected to more than double again in the coming 12 months to $60+ million.

Mr Maire says Navman’s surge in sales has also been the result of the company expanding from marine electronics (fishfinders, chartplotters, instrument series etc) into consumer-based land navigation and fleet tracking navigation products.

He says Navman (previously called Talon Technology) is at the forefront in the current rapid growth of mobile data and fleet management technology, used for example by taxi or courier companies, and hand-held and in-car navigation products – used by five million car owners in Japan and a growing trend in Europe and the USA.

Navman has 50 engineers dedicated to developing intellectual property to meet the demands of its clients around the world and Mr Maire says the company has developed world-leading expertise in GPS (Global Positioning Systems) – satellite based navigation products.

“We increased our focus on GPS marine products in 1995 - we could see that GPS would drive everything in leisure boats - all the maps and charts displayed and all sources of navigation would come via GPS products,” says Mr Maire.

He says Navman decided to expand into GPS land-based navigation products to overcome the seasonality of its marine business and because it could see that GPS was going to be huge in the automotive industry.

Consumer-based GPS products now account for 30% of Navman’s turnover and
Mr Maire says that will most likely increase to more than 60% next year.

Trade New Zealand Sector Manager Peter Smyth congratulated Navman on its Export Award win.

“Navman is a very well run and dynamic company whose key competency is in being able to commercialise product ideas in niche market segments. The company has shown a remarkable ability to be flexible and responsive to new opportunities.”

Peter Maire says Navman’s key competitive advantage is its focused approach.

“We have a simple strategy and focus on levering our technology into multiple markets. We are not a leading inventor of new things. In most areas we are very much a ‘me-too’ company using a very aggressive and dynamic ‘me-too’ business model.

“About 20, very large companies in the world are making in-car navigation products. We’ve got very creative engineers who can do it better and cheaper - it probably costs us 40-50% less than our competitors to design, develop and build our marine electronic products and that’s just through good, creative engineering.”

Mr Maire says Navman “pours money” into R&D, with almost all the company’s sales derived from products the company developed less than five years ago. He says Navman’s international competitiveness is boosted by the low cost of R&D in New Zealand – 30% - 50% less than competing countries.

A founder and co-owner of Navman, Peter Marie admits he is obsessed with growth. He says the future is very positive for Navman. The company will focus on growing its currently small share of the $1 billion marine leisure craft electronics market. Mr Maire says it is also considering “enormous opportunities” in the car navigation and fleet tracking markets – already multi billion dollars markets and growing.

“We want our growth in land based navigation to be very controlled and gradual and we’re being very selective and strategic about where and who we do business with.”

Mr Maire says Navman’s staff have doubled to almost 200 in the past two years to keep pace with the company’s growth, with new offices opening in the UK and more recently the USA. Today Navman products are sold throughout the world, including the Americas, Asia, Europe, Australia, the Middle East, India, Pakistan, South Africa and Australia.

“Navman has established a world class reputation within the markets it competes. This is highlighted by the fact that blue chip companies such as Qualcomm, Compaq and Palm engage Navman as a partner to develop and manufacture products.”

Mr Maire says while Navman has a very productive manufacturing operation in Auckland, its focus is now on branding, technology and distribution. He says Navman will expand its manufacturing capability by increasing its use of local contractors.


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