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Industry NZ Gets World Class NZers

2 May 2002

Industry NZ Gets World Class NZers Into Driving Seat

Jim Anderton has welcomed news that the first company representative to go on an Industry New Zealand Business Exchange under the World Class New Zealanders programme has come home with the chance to make racing car seats for Daimler-Chrysler.

“I encourage New Zealand companies with innovative ideas who need access to international skills or knowledge to help create growth and increase job numbers, to contact Industry New Zealand,” said Jim Anderton.

The NZ Business Exchange programme is part of Industry New Zealand’s World Class New Zealanders initiative to help competitive growth of businesses by accessing international expertise.

David Black, director of Petone-based Black Arrow, which manufactures Racetech racing seats, recently returned from a week in the United States visiting and working with Daimler-Chrysler and the Dodge Viper project team.

Mr Black received a positive response. “We are seeking to produce a specially modified seat for the club-racing version of Daimler-Chrysler’s new Dodge Viper competition coupe. “The exchange enabled me to meet the engineers first-hand and get the information we need to modify the seats for the Vipers. As well, the opportunity to meet leading US motor sport safety expert Dr John Melvin of Wayne State University - who advises Daimler-Chrysler - will ensure the finished seat is state-of-art.”

Industry New Zealand contributed to the cost of the visit through the International Business Exchange programme.

Black Arrow was an ideal recipient for the first Exchange, said Industry New Zealand chief executive Neil Mackay. “The Viper project is a great opportunity for the company to build critical technical design capability and the potential for a long term relationship with a world class car manufacturer,” Mr Mackay said.

Mr Black said Daimler-Chrysler was interested in Black Arrow’s seats because they met safety standards set by motor sport’s controlling body, the Federation International Automobile, and were competitively priced.

“We were also prepared to modify the seats so they would accommodate the relatively large American physique but would still fit in the Viper’s relatively small cockpit.”

Mr Black is confident the modified seats will pass Daimler-Chrysler’s testing regime and will be chosen for the Vipers. Daimler-Chrysler expects to make about 150 of the special edition coupes, which will sell for about $US100,000 each.

Industry New Zealand has also supported Black Arrow’s plans to quadruple its size over the next four years through the Business Growth Service. The company has been awarded a business growth grant of $77,800 - which it must match dollar for dollar - to improve marketing, training and e-commerce capabilities.

Editors’ note

Black Arrow Ltd makes Racetech seats and is the only seat maker in the southern hemisphere to meet safety standards set by the Federation International Automobile.

The company, which has eight staff, makes more than a quarter of all racing seats sold in New Zealand each year and has begun to export. It also produces and exports seats for racing and pleasure boats.

The world market for racing seats is about 1.5 million seats a year, with about a quarter of those seats being sold in the United States.

Industry New Zealand was set up by the Government in September 2000 as New Zealand’s economic development agency.

World Class New Zealanders is an Industry New Zealand programme designed to help increase New Zealand's international competitiveness by giving entrepreneurs and high growth New Zealand industries and businesses the opportunity to learn from the world's best companies and brightest talents.

International Business Exchanges, part of the World Class New Zealanders programme, assist New Zealand Businesses to:

- Improve capabilities critical to competitive growth

- Learn skills from top offshore businesses

- Establish networks with overseas experts and strategic partners linked to capability improvement

- Access international expertise not readily available in New Zealand.

The Business Growth Service helps businesses that have substantial potential for growth. The service offers advice and expertise, along with grants of up to $100,000 so companies can buy services that will help them grow.


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