In­ven­tor will be busy at Fiel­d­ays

Te Puke Times - - SPORT -

Fiel­d­ays has a special ap­peal to Bay of Plenty in­ven­tor and busi­ness­man Matt Flow­er­day.

Grow­ing up on his par­ents’ dairy farm near Te Aroha, Matt at­tended Fiel­d­ays as a stu­dent at Te Aroha Col­lege and later as a univer­sity stu­dent.

“I re­mem­ber go­ing to Fiel­d­ays when I was at school and my friends and I would try and col­lect as many pam­phlets as pos­si­ble,” he says. “Fiel­d­ays is also a special time for our fam­ily be­cause my fa­ther and sis­ter’s birth­days al­ways fall dur­ing that week in mid-June. When it was Dad’s 60th we couldn’t think of a bet­ter place to cel­e­brate than at Fiel­d­ays.”

The Fiel­d­ays con­nec­tion has con­tin­ued over the years. Matt’s com­pany, GPS-it, has been ex­hibit­ing at Fiel­d­ays for the past nine years.

Now Tau­ranga-based, GPS-it is a spe­cial­ist map­ping com­pany that grew out of a shed on his par­ents ki­wifruit or­chard in Te Puke 17 years ago.

Matt will be back at Mys­tery Creek next week to show­case GPS-it’s global po­si­tion­ing sys­tem (GPS) tech­nol­ogy in the Fiel­d­ays In­no­va­tions Cen­tre.

“As a new busi­ness owner I started go­ing to Fiel­d­ays to check out the com­pe­ti­tion and see what new tech­nol­ogy was out there,” he says. “It has al­ways been a great op­por­tu­nity to catch up with old univer­sity mates and other farm­ing friends too. It’s like the calm be­fore the storm, be­fore every­one gets busy with calv­ing.”

This year GPS-it has worked closely with the Fiel­d­ays team to de­velop the Fiel­d­ays App. The free, down­load­able app has been de­vel­oped to en­able visi­tors to use GPS map­ping tech­nol­ogy to nav­i­gate the site and to plan their day in ad­vance.

“You can search the app and it will not only find where you want to go, but tell you the best route for walk­ing there,” says Matt, who says that the project in­volved dig­i­tally map­ping the en­tire 114-hectare site at Mys­tery Creek.

User feed­back helped im­prove on last year’s de­sign.

“The most re­quested fea­tures of the app were how to find the near­est toi­let, and where on earth is my car,” says Matt.

The com­pany had hum­ble be­gin­nings.

“I was in my 20s, and I re­mem­ber get­ting my hands on some GPS gear and mea­sur­ing up their or­chard,” he says. “The team at the pack house were quite im­pressed and gave me a few more jobs to work on. At that time, Ze­spri was re­leas­ing its Gold va­ri­ety of ki­wifruit. I showed them what I could do and ended up pick­ing up map­ping work for them. The rest is his­tory.” Matt is proud of how his com­pany has grown over the past 18 years. They now em­ploy more than 20 peo­ple and sup­ply maps to 85 per cent of New Zealand’s ki­wifruit in­dus­try.

“There was a real gap in the mar­ket for ac­cu­rate GPS map­ping tech­nol­ogy farm­ers could use as the foun­da­tion from which to run their en­tire oper­a­tion. That’s why I started GPS-it,” says Matt.

“Ev­ery­thing starts with a map. They are the ul­ti­mate driver of pro­duc­tiv­ity. With emerg­ing tech­nol­ogy like drones we are now get­ting even more de­tail than we used to with GPS.”

GPS-it worked with com­pa­nies such as Fon­terra and Ze­spri to de­velop tools for farm­ers that help them run more ef­fi­cient, prof­itable and sus­tain­able busi­nesses.

“A project close to my heart was an au­to­mated map­ping sys­tem we built with Ze­spri to help mon­i­tor ki­wifruit or­chards in­fected with the PSA bac­te­ria,” says Matt. “It was a chal­leng­ing time for our fam­ily and the in­dus­try.

“I’m also proud of the work we did with Fon­terra more than seven years go to build a wa­ter­way map­ping app as part of farm­ers’ ef­forts to pro­tect our streams, lakes and rivers.”

A video of Matt’s story is avail­able in the doc­u­men­tary box set Fiel­d­ays Sto­ries, which can be viewed through TVNZ OnDe­mand (TVNZ.co.nz).

Matt Flow­er­day started GPSit in a shed on his par­ents’ Te Puke ki­wifruit or­chard.

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