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Sutton Speech: Pacific Aerospace

Speech Notes|
8 May 2002
8 May 2002
Pacific Aerospace export commendation award, Hamilton

Managing director Brian Hare, general manager John McWilliam, staff of Pacific Aerospace Corporation, ladies and gentlemen: Pacific Aerospace Corporation has won a Trade New Zealand Export Award today for outstanding export achievement.

You have developed a new aircraft ? the PAC 750XL ? that is projected to boost annual foreign exchange earnings from $8 million last year to $37 million next year.

Pacific Aerospace, a privately owned Hamilton company, is New Zealand's only conventional aircraft manufacturer. The company was formed in 1954, so you've had almost 50 years in business. And you've been exporting for all of that time.

You have built up an international reputation over many years for your skills in aircraft design and frame manufacturing expertise.

The Fletcher topdresser plane put PAC on the map originally. That's now been superseded by an updated model.

Like another Hamilton-based company Gallagher, PAC has built a unique value proposition based on New Zealand's heritage in pioneering more intensive and cost-effective pastoral agricultural practices. You have leveraged off that expertise to target a much broader market.

A solid export base has been established around the supply of Airtrainers, Cresco 750s and aircraft components to the military, agricultural and commercial aircraft sectors.

Now in production, the new 750XL aircraft will build on PAC's solid reputation, through, for the first time, offering the market a true utility aircraft capable of being used for a variety of uses.

The plane is the first developed in recent times by PAC. Most recently, you have concentrated on enhancing existing models, so the 750XL is an exciting development.

I'm told you developed the 750XL initially to target the fast growing tourism skydiving and parachute market.

It is attracting enormous interest from all over the world for uses ranging from parachuting to carrying drums of fuel and plywood into the wilderness areas of Canada.

It's powered by a turbo-propeller engine with an ability to lift heavy payloads off semi prepared and short landing strips.

A lot of planes currently operating in adventure tourism, freight and the 10-seat passenger market are getting old and expensive to operate. Pacific Aerospace believes the 750XL will provide a very cost effective solution to operators.

Ladies and Gentlemen: Pacific Aerospace is achieving export success in a very competitive "boom and bust" sector.

You have many challenges. You receive no external assistance, while often competing against companies which are subsidised by their governments, particularly in military training.

Distance from your markets is another barrier but I'm told you overcome this in part by effective use of your website and email.

However, your relatively small size is a competitive advantage. You're more easy to deal with and flexible. You can respond quickly to market changes and make quick decisions.

Being a New Zealand company is also a positive. New Zealand is seen as politically and competitively neutral (something that is particularly important in the military training market).

Pacific Aerospace's products have a good heritage and are well-proven. They are a New Zealand icon. Well-known for being "rugged", your planes are simple and robust in their construction, which is important in the agricultural and military markets you target as it gives reliability and longevity.

You have a base of loyal and longterm customers. Word of mouth is an important marketing tool for you.

At the moment, you employ 120 people here in this Hamilton plant. But with the large increase in production projected, I understand you are looking to increase production capability and to recruit new staff, both skilled and semi-skilled. There is also potential to increase the use of other NZ companies as subcontractors.

It gives me great pleasure now to award Pacific Aerospace with this export commendation award. Congratulations.


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