TracMap workshop and technical director Dougal Brook (left)
and managing director Colin Brown hold a newly developed
aviation light bar which has helped the company sell more
GPS guidance systems in the United States. Photo by Linda
Dunedin-based GPS mapping company TracMap is taking on
the world and expects to hire an extra 10 staff within a year
to meet ''rapid growth''.
Managing director Colin Brown said it was not all doom and
gloom when it came to doing business in Dunedin and the city
had advantages over its larger counterparts.
''It's easy to get despondent about what's wrong, but the
fact is we do a lot of things very well here in Dunedin.
There is some great innovation coming out of Dunedin,'' he
Since TracMap's establishment in 2005, it has grown to
provide GPS technology across the agriculture, search and
rescue, utilities and aviation sectors.
Mr Brown said TracMap, along with other Dunedin businesses
such as ADInstruments and Scott Technology, were doing well
by catering to niche markets, which was something bigger
companies were less equipped to do.
It had a strong base in New Zealand, but it was ''rapid
growth'' in overseas markets which was expected to result in
the company, which now had 30 staff, employing an extra 10
people in the next year.
''In order to satisfy the growth demand, we will be employing
"In fact, we have got a vacancy for a developer right now,
and we will need sales managers and we will need
administration staff and call centre support staff.''
Growth areas included the sale of GPS systems for viticulture
and horticulture to Australia.
The United States was also a growing market, with the company
selling its first grape harvest systems to California.
The ability to design products which catered to its
customers' needs was one of its strengths.
''We design systems for 62-year-old males who have left their
reading glasses at home and don't know their wife's email
''If those guys can't use the system, then it doesn't matter
if the 25-year-old guys who are into texting and tweeting ...
can use it.
''If 20% or 30% of your staff can't because technology is
beyond them, then the system falls down.''
He also stressed the benefits of doing business in Dunedin,
which included paying less rent and the lifestyle that came
with living in a smaller city.
''We've attracted staff here, very good staff, because they
don't want to live in a big-city environment.''
Not getting constantly stuck in traffic was another plus.
''Every time in Auckland and you get stuck on the motorway
trying to get to a meeting, whereas in Dunedin if you want to
shoot in to see the guys at [Otago Polytechnic's] innovation
workSpace ... you know that 22 minutes later you are going to
be sitting in their office.''
The team at innovation workSpace had designed and built
housing for a guidance device - called a light bar - attached
to the exterior of crop-dusting planes, which had helped it
sell its GPS guidance system in the United States.
''Americans, being the conservative types that they are, were
reluctant to move from using the outside light bars that they
were used to using.
''We couldn't continue in that market without having an
external light bar. It was costing us too many sales.
"So we needed to develop an external light bar that was
robust enough to sit on the nose of an aircraft while flying
at 200kmh and still be able to provide the information that a
pilot needed in bright sunshine or in dim weather
Being able to go to a local organisation was ideal, as it
made it easier to ''bounce ideas around'', and the solution
innovation workSpace came up with was excellent.
''The feedback we have had from customers and other aerial
applicators in the [United] States and in New Zealand and in
Australia [is] that it is the best light bar available.''