Turning challenges into opportunities
Catherine Beard discovers an exporter that’s reaping the rewards of some hard work.
“We have never shied away from issues; we see them as a challenge to grow and innovate. We grab hold of them and sort them out. We did that very quickly for China and we’re now selling the new IP we developed all over the world. Those decisions we took four years ago have been instrumental in giving us technology that really sets us apart in meeting the aggressive needs of 24/7 dairying anywhere.”
Dean says a lot of their success is due to their people.
“Every area of our business is full of unbelievably talented, passionate people looking for ways to improve the business. We invest in the right people; we commit to ongoing training and development and, as a consequence, we retain our people.
“We’ve put a lot of energy into our international business for six to seven years, as a deliberate strategy to diversify and strengthen business and reduce reliance on one market.
“The US is a significant and developing market for us. We set up a branch in Wisconsin in 2008 and we’ve just bought an American company which manufactures complementary technology to ours – plus it is all-American design and manufacturing. Ultimately, to be successful you have to have a blend of good ideas and respect what drives the local market. Having a distinctly American flavour to Waikato Milking Systems is going to be valuable.”
The global expansion doesn’t stop there.
“This year expanding into Western Europe,” says Dean, “which is typically the main market of our major competitors. We’ve normally kept out of it; but not now!
“The business is performing exceptionally well – our technology is unique, very practical, sophisticated and easy to use. If a farmer is actively using technology six months after they purchased it then in my view it’s valuable. It has to be robust; it should last 20 years.”
Dean says the company’s aim is to be number three in the world for milking systems – after DeLaval of Sweden and GEA of Germany.
“Demand for our technology and systems is growing around the world; some of the European dairy industries are some of the oldest and most challenging – so yes, we are going to respond to, and grow, that demand right across Europe.”