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Export Award For Rubber Manufacturer

Export Award For Rubber Manufacturer - Gulf Rubber (Nz) Ltd

Gulf Rubber New Zealand, an Auckland company that’s achieved world leading status with its high tech rubber diaphragms used predominantly in the appliance industry, is being awarded a Trade New Zealand Export Award.

General Manager Rex Middelbeek says Gulf Rubber is currently the leading supplier in volume and quality of rubber diaphragms used in appliance pressure switches for water level control in Europe, supplying the region’s five largest switch manufacturers.

The company also designs and manufactures high-tech molded rubber components for the gas, petroleum, automotive, valve and portable water industries in the US and Australia as well as Europe.

(Media are invited to attend the presentation of the Gulf Rubber (NZ) Ltd Export Award by the Minister of Trade Negotiations, the Hon. Jim Sutton, on Tuesday 23 April, at 8.30am, at 17 Bay Park Place, Beach Haven, North Shore.)

Mr Middelbeek says Gulf Rubber has enjoyed between 20% to 30% year-on-year growth in exports since it started selling internationally in 1995. From humble beginnings, he says the company is currently quoting for millions worth of export business. He says a focus on customisation and quality are at the heart of the company’s export success. It has a staff of 87 at its North Shore plant, with a large team focused on R&D and product development.

Mr Middelbeek says while Gulf Rubber (NZ) is now enjoying strong export growth, breaking into international markets has been hard grind.

“Our export success has been achieved in the face of much larger, better resourced competitors who are often local to our customers. We have managed to turn the challenges of size, remoteness and the time difference into competitive advantages.

“Size allows us flexibility and our remoteness has encouraged a global approach to technology researching – our competitors tend only to look locally. And the opposite time zones from our Northern Hemisphere clients often allows us extra time to prepare ‘next day’ answers. This has resulted in very strong gorwth in an industry not normally associated with New Zealand.

“Once we’ve got the business our delivery has to be seamless – the export customer can’t have in mind that you are supplying product from 5000 miles away. We’ve set up local logistics centres and have product available so the client can have it the next day. We’ve also set up internet ordering facilities which gives the client the perception that we are nearby.”

Mr Middelbeek says breaking into the European market against much bigger and better resourced competitors sometimes called for drastic action.
“We won new business by convincing one of the largest European companies that we could manufacture a particular product for them that we had no previous experience of. What we did have was a real can-do attitude and desire to be successful.

“Once we had developed technologies we were confident we could do it. If you want to get into the market and compete with suppliers that are just 5km down the road from your customers, then you’ve really got to go to that extreme.”

While delivering on the promise for the important European company was stressful, Mr Middelbeek says the risk paid off with Gulf Rubber (NZ) completing the new product within the 12-month deadline. To develop the right compound for the product it scoured the world for the best source of materials.

Some of Gulf Rubber’s European clients are now endorsing its products, something Mr Middelbeek says the company is aggressively leveraging off to develop its business in the US - a challenging but potentially huge market, particularly the automotive and energy industries.

A privately owned New Zealand company, Gulf Rubber (NZ) also operates out of Australia, Malaysia and Mexico, with offices in the UK and US. Mr Middelbeek says the New Zealand company is the high tech end of the business, developing intellectual property and focussing on high value products.

Trade New Zealand Account Manager Alex Mathew congratulated Gulf Rubber (NZ) on its export success.

“Gulf Rubber (NZ) is a product driven company that’s successfully carved out a niche in supplying high-tech and high-spec rubber components, incorporating valuable intellectual property.

“An impressive aspect of Gulf Rubber (NZ)’s business is the importance placed on the can-do attitude of the company’s product development team and other staff. It’s developed world leading capability in rubber technology and engineering design that’s now been recognised internationally.”

Rex Middelbeek says Gulf Rubber (NZ)’s significant competitive advantage is its willingness to understand its customers needs and provide solutions to problems.

“We customise our components and services whereas our competitors often treat them as a commodity. We develop our own rubber compounds and materials, we generally don’t buy anything ‘off the shelf’. We look to optimise our clients’ performance, give them something that gives them an edge in the market because the more they can sell the more we will sell.”


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