Hamish Fletcher

Hamish Fletcher is a business reporter for the NZ Herald

Ideal leader: Tricky, clever and with a good team

Sir Peter Maire, chairman of Fusion, says the company is pleased about winning major petrol-station technology contracts in the New Zealand market. Photo / Richard Robinson
Sir Peter Maire, chairman of Fusion, says the company is pleased about winning major petrol-station technology contracts in the New Zealand market. Photo / Richard Robinson

For Navman founder Sir Peter Maire, the ideal business team has the virtues of the Sean Fitzpatrick-era All Blacks.

"Fitzpatrick was a clever little bastard, a tricky guy and he had a great team. It was a team that took a long time to come together," Mairesaid.

While Maire doesn't compare himself to one of New Zealand's rugby greats, the Auckland entrepreneur has worked hard over the past three years putting together the team at his latest venture, Fusion Transactive.

Born out of the ashes of collapsed eftpos company ProvencoCadmus, Fusion Transactive produces technology for petrol stations that controls everything from payments at the till to the monitoring of fuel stocks.

"The guys had a huge task to basically rebuild everything [after Provenco] and it's unbelievable what they've done," Maire said.

With annual revenue of approximately $20 million, Fusion is regarded as a market leader in Australasia, Asia-Pacific and Africa and has deals locally with Z, BP, Mobil and Foodstuffs.

"We've made a clean sweep in the last 12 months. We're very pleased about winning all the major contracts in the New Zealand market and really cementing ourselves back in [the industry]."

Maire believes the growth for the company will be in the rollout of "next-generation" payment terminals at petrol pumps.

Fusion has pilots of these pay-at-the-pump units at truck stops in Auckland and says there is huge demand for the service.

"Z did a big market survey as part of buying [Shell New Zealand] and the second most asked for thing by the New Zealand public was the ability to pay while they were at the pump while they were pumping gas."

As well as the oil industry, Maire sees opportunities for Fusion to develop and export technology for payment machines in car-parking buildings.

While the 61-year-old now spends his time as the chairman of Fusion Transactive and its sister company Fusion Electronics, he is best known as the founder of satellite navigation company, Navman.

Started in Maire's garage in 1986, Navman was sold to North American conglomerate Brunswick in 2004 for $108 million.

Brunswick later broke up the navigation technology maker's divisions and sold them off separately.

Maire's disappointment about Navman's fate is well documented and he told the Herald yesterday he regrets selling the business.

"We didn't realise how good Navman was," he said.

Maire is estimated to be worth $65 million and is Fusion's majority shareholder.

Fusion combats slowdown by increasing investment in R&D

Despite an undeniably tight economic environment, Navman founder Sir Peter Maire says the time is ripe for small New Zealand companies to pour funds into research and development.

"When you get a slowdown in the market, in a big multinational company the board says cut the R&D. That's what has been happening. A lot of our competitors at [Fusion] have cut their R&D budgets and what we have done is just ramped ours like crazy. So we're coming out with new innovative products faster than they can even imagine and just taking market share," Maire said.

While the Fusion chairman admitted it was a difficult time to raise capital, he said New Zealand companies needed to take tips from Steve Jobs and Apple on the "science of product management".

"Success is really product management and I think the thing New Zealand companies understand least about," Maire said.

"It doesn't matter if they are in technology, fashion or anything, they least understand the science of product management - everything from the design and the development side all the way through to understanding the market and the voice of the customer ... if you're doing [product management] well you don't really have anything to fear."

- NZ Herald

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