Helen and Dave Morgan designed the scooterack to help sort the clutter created when kick-style scooters are left lying around. By providing an easy-to-use parking solution they hoped to encourage scootering as a healthy mode of transport to and from schools. Designed and manufactured in New Zealand, scooteracks are made from Linear Low Density Polyethylene.
Helen is a freelance advertising copywriter and runs scooterack on a day to day basis. Dave is creative director at interior design consultancy, Stack Interiors. He designed, prototyped and developed the scooterack in their garage.
When you were deciding to set the business up, why did you opt for making scooterack in New Zealand?
The initial intention was to create a simple solution to fix a problem identified by our local primary school so we opted for suppliers as close as practicable to home. Plus, flying over to China isn't really appealing with a young family to care for. And call us hippies, but it makes us feel good keeping everything homegrown.
We could definitely make more money if we manufactured off-shore. Then again it's hard to put price on the pride that comes with keeping it local.
Where do you manufacture in NZ? How did you find the right factory?
We prototyped a number of different materials and forms, finally settling on Linear Low Density Polyethene (primarily for reasons of cost, durability and recyclability). They're manufactured in the Hawkes Bay by Allen Svendsen an old business contact of Dave's at Classique Plastics. Allen advised on the capabilities and suitability of LDP and has been very accommodating with small production runs and any minor changes to tooling that have come about through product refinement.
How many scooteracks do you make a week?
This varies depending on forward orders. While we maintain a small amount of stock we generally manufacture to fulfill specific orders. Some weeks none are manufactured, while at times up to 150 have been produced in a week. We aim to keep lead times to a minimum and customers accept that for bulk orders of 10 or more units there is currently a two week lead time. As long as scooters remain popular then we'd hope to at least double our current turnover during the next 12-months, putting us in a position to hold more stock and reduce customer waiting times.
Have you had approaches to manufacture overseas?
We have had approaches from offshore and were informed that one interested party would want to manufacture in China. That in itself was not an issue if the products manufactured overseas were to be sold overseas. However, they wanted to compromise on the quality and we stood to lose control of this. That was non-negotiable in our opinion, so we parked that discussion. Our view has always been that at the very least, any scooteracks sold in New Zealand will be manufactured in New Zealand.
Are you exporting?
The problem with exporting is that once we add shipping to our higher local unit cost/dollar the scooteracks become too pricey for an overseas distributor to add their margin. At this stage we don't have overseas agencies or distributors, but that may change in the near future. In a perfect world we'd resolve these issues so that every scooterack for any market would be made here. Time will tell.
Are you looking at manufacturing other products?
We've recently started selling a smaller scooterack intended for home usage in the garage, by the back door, with room for four scooters (as opposed to eight scooters in the large scooterack). We firmly believe that New Zealand does offer the manufacturing capability for what we want to do. It is that expertise that we'll be seeking in the future to get our next product(s) off the line. As Kiwis we would love to see more product being manufactured here, and if our modest production runs somehow contribute to someone being employed in the New Zealand manufacturing industry, then even better.By Gill South Email Gill