Overseas sales lift TracMap

TracMap workshop and technical director Dougal Brook (left) and managing director Colin Brown...
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 Robertson.
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 said.

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 more developers.

"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 address.

''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 conditions.''

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.''


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