Small business: Exporting - James Docking

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James Docking CEO, Gentrack on the company's export story

James Docking, CEO of Gentrack. Photo / Brett Phibbs
James Docking, CEO of Gentrack. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Headquartered in Ponsonby, Gentrack designs and builds specialist software for utility companies and airports.

Where do you export to?

For the best part of 30 years, Gentrack's software products, Gentrack Velocity, mDATA21 and Airport 20/20 have been used by utilities and airports throughout New Zealand, Australia, Asia, Europe, UK and North America. Our customers include utilities companies such as Vector, Genesis Energy, Trustpower, Meridian Energy, Origin Energy, Unitywater and Barwon Water. International airport customers include Sydney, Brisbane, Hong Kong, JFK, Newark Liberty, London City and Sri Lanka as well as 48 airports in Pakistan and 30 in Finland.

What percentage of your business is export?

Our growth in Australia meant that in 2012 our revenues there exceeded those from NZ and the rest of the world. With the addition of our latest utility customer in the UK, Bournemouth Water, and ongoing Airports 20/20 projects in Asia, we expect to see more than 70 per cent of our sales coming from outside NZ.

What is your company's story? What appeals to your customers overseas about it?

In essence we deliver where many of our large overseas competitors can't. Our Kiwi "can-do" attitude, proven track record in New Zealand and Australia, and our value- based solutions is what really gets us noticed on the international stage. Our people love software and they love delivering real commercial solutions to our utilities and airport customers.

Over the years, we've evolved as a business that made its name in New Zealand's deregulating energy sector and we've transformed ourselves into an international business that has systems billing water and energy across all states and territories of Australia and airport systems at some of the world's largest airports.

What countries are your biggest exports? How have you identified them?

By revenue our largest exports are to Australia and the UK. Airport 20/20 has also had significant success in North America and Asia. With our utility software we have initially targeted those countries with similar regulatory regimes and are undergoing structural changes which will require new and innovative software solutions.

Once we feel we are well established in the UK, we plan to take our utility software into North America where we have already built some credibility in the airport sector.

Does winning awards help you market abroad?

We've actively taken part in the awards as a means to build awareness of our business success and growth prospects offshore. We were a finalist in the HiTech awards in 2012, and we're excited to be a finalist in this year's International Business Awards. Through engagement with NZTE and the Trade Commissioner in the UK, we're starting to understand the relevance of the New Zealand aspect of our company culture and brand.

New Zealand technology companies have a strong reputation in the UK and we plan to add to this with our growth in the region.

How do you view the Fonterra situation at the moment?

Fonterra is a sound company with good processes and I believe they'll do whatever it takes to resolve the current situation. What it does suggest is a need for continued investment in alternative hi-growth export industries in New Zealand like software and technology where we have a growing reputation for innovation.


Next week, we are taking a look at the changing workplace health and safety landscape in corporate New Zealand triggered by the Pike River tragedy. With a new Crown agency, Worksafe NZ, being set up to regulate workplace health and safety by the end of 2013, and much more stringent enforcement measures including heavy fines and corporate manslaughter, it's time all businesses checke that their house is in order.

- NZ Herald

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