Tauranga businessman on brink of something big

By Joseph Aldridge

Tauranga businessman Matt Cooney returned from the United States recently with a new distributor agreement and a feeling that 10 years of hard work and development are about to pay off.

Mr Cooney and wife Janine run Trench It, a manufacturer of trench cutting equipment that specialises in machines the golf course and sportsfield industries use to create drainage systems.

They bought the business in 2002 and most of their efforts since have gone into developing new models - leaving precious little time for sales pitches or marketing campaigns.

The company established itself in the New Zealand market, but had failed to crack the big US market until late last year when a South Carolina-based turf equipment company contacted the couple.

The US company was looking for a new supplier of trench-cutting machinery and, impressed with Trench It's solid-looking products, signed a distributor agreement that will result in the Tauranga company's products displayed at specialist US trade shows.

In January, Mr Cooney attended a sports turf tradeshow in Daytona, Florida, where his new distributor STEC exhibited his machines.

STEC (Specialised Turf Equipment Company) displayed his products at the Golf Industry Show in San Diego soon after he flew home.

Four machines have already been sold and the Cooneys are feeling optimistic the American market could soon account for 70 per cent of revenue.

"It was a very successful trip and I got on really well with the new distributors and things are looking very good for the future," Mr Cooney told the Bay of Plenty Times.

The company has so far produced about 20 machines a year.

"I'm hoping by the end of this year it should have doubled and then it will hopefully get more and more each year."

Filling those extra orders should not be a problem thanks to a partnership with industrial componentry company Gamminco.

"Two years ago we joined forces with Gamminco. They're a big CNC and fabrication outfit and he runs about 40-odd staff so with their horsepower behind us nothing's a problem really."

The Cooneys are excited by the possibilities of the American market after 10 years of reinvesting profits into the development of new products.

"It's been hard work, but it's pretty exciting now," Mrs Cooney said.

Trench It makes six different trenching machines used by the civil engineering industry, agricultural and horticultural industries, as well as the sportsfield industry.

Only two other manufacturers, both UK based, compete with Trench It in the niche market of sportsfield drainage machines.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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