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NZ marine companies making a splash

Hurricane didn’t stop resilient New Zealand marine companies making a splash

7 November 2005: Despite a hurricane, resilient New Zealand marine companies made a splash at the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show in Florida last week.

The Show, which was postponed after Hurricane Wilma hit Florida, is one of the most important events on the international boat show programme. All 25 New Zealand companies have stayed on in Fort Lauderdale to exhibit at the show giving New Zealand a strong presence.

Usually the Fort Lauderdale show spans six land and water locations and features more than $US1.6 billion worth of boats, yachts, super yachts, electronics, engines and accessories from major marine manufacturers and builders. Most of the global marine industry’s key influencers attend the show, with around half the visitors from the US and others from Europe and Asia.

Hurricane Wilma meant that many buyers were unable to attend, but contingency planning by the 25 New Zealand companies meant they were able to make the most of business-to-business opportunities. And, in true New Zealand spirit, the companies fundraised for victims of the hurricanes that have ravaged the region by holding a raffle for two trips to New Zealand.

New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE), which supports companies attending the event, Events Manager Lynne Banford said the contingency planning meant that, despite the hurricane, New Zealand companies had an exclusive VIP room they could use, which doubled as a networking venue.

“The room gave companies a private place to do business negotiations just a few minutes walk from the exhibition area and the ability to host a prestigious networking event at the conclusion of the show,” says Ms Banford.

Ian Cook, Managing Director of exhibiting company Yachting Developments, says losing the America’s Cup has reminded Kiwi marine companies that marketing at global trade shows is crucially important.

“Holding the Cup gave us huge media exposure and an ideal vehicle to showcase New Zealand marine technology and capability. The industry is just as buoyant and innovative without the Cup and participating in events like Fort Lauderdale is a good way to remind our customers of that,” he says.

Stuart Robinson, Managing Director of Robinson Marine Interiors and Vice Chair of the marine industry export group, said “we are doing a lot of business in the United States and this is a perfect opportunity. Deals don’t happen overnight but being there is another step in the process of securing new projects – you have to be visible on the international circuit to bring things to fruition.”

While the New Zealand companies are competing for global marine business Stuart Robinson says there is enough business out there for everyone. “As much as possible the participants are joining forces to take New Zealand to the world.”

Lance Sheppard, the Business Development Manager at NZTE’s Marine Beachhead at Fort Lauderdale, says huge effort went into branding and networking opportunities at the show.

Although smaller and more intimate than first planned, the New Zealand networking evening was still be a highlight of the show for many says Lance Sheppard. At the function key clients and contacts will treated to a selection of New Zealand food and wine.

“The hurricane meant we had to be innovative, and those at the show will be left in no doubt about New Zealand’s passion, creativity, professionalism, and cutting edge capability.”


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