Helen Twose

Personal finance and KiwiSaver columnist at the NZ Herald

On the road to success after challenge win

Pacific Rubber's Andrew Christie on St Peter's College's synthetic sports field, which the company says was constructed using 250 tonnes of recycled rubber.
Pacific Rubber's Andrew Christie on St Peter's College's synthetic sports field, which the company says was constructed using 250 tonnes of recycled rubber.

If Andrew Christie's tyre recycling business Pacific Rubber is any indication, things are on the up for the economy.

Christie, a former banker who continues to follow economic indicators, says the number of old tyres his firm collects is a barometer of economic activity.

"People are moving more goods, more transit, there's more activity and you can see it from tyre waste," he said.

It's a similar concept to that used by the ANZ Bank's Truckometer economic indicator, in which traffic volume data collected by the NZ Transport Agency is mined for clues to the state of the nation.

Christie's business has also boomed after being among the winners in last year's University of Auckland Business School Entrepreneurs' Challenge.

The Entrepreneurs' Challenge gives up to $1 million in funding annually to turbocharge the business plans of selected high-growth companies. Pacific Rubber claimed top spot last year with high-end meat supplier Neat Meat and honey-based healthcare company Manuka Health.

A little over seven months since the win, Pacific Rubber has had a 25 per cent lift in its tyre collection business, which makes up half the company's revenue.

Christie puts the company's growth down to the profile boost the competition gave it.

"For example, we got Fonterra's business - we do all their tanker fleet - that was off the back of that publicity."

While half of Pacific Rubber's business is collecting used tyres, the other half is turning that waste rubber into tiny granules.

Founded in 2009 from the assets of a tyre recycling firm, the company uses a massive milling machine, nicknamed the " blue monster", to mill tyres into crumbs to be used in synthetic all-weather sports surfaces.

Money from the Entrepreneurs' Challenge is being directed towards expanding the plant over the next 12 months to create rubber crumbs the texture of black sand that can be blended into road surfaces.

As well as reusing tyres that would be otherwise destined for landfill, the rubberised asphalt concrete creates quieter roads and is becoming a popular choice for roading contractors in Australia.

Christie's advice for would-be Entrepreneurs' Challenge entrants is to be concise about what you need funding for, and to be able to sum it up for the judging panel in a finite and measurable way.

Entrepreneurs' Challenge

• Businesses with a financial track record and a minimum turnover of $1 million will be preferred.

• Funding will be negotiated on a case-by-case basis, with up to $1 million available on favourable terms.

• Entries close at 5pm on July 5.

• Winners announced in October.

www.entrepreneurschallenge .co.nz

- NZ Herald

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