Skellerup, an iconic brand in New Zealand, may have been around the scene for more than 100 years but it continues to re-focus and grow strongly.
Famous for its Red Band gumboot, which is celebrating 60 years in 2018, Skellerup now supplies a wide range of engineered solutions for customers here and overseas in dairy rubberware, water and related infrastructure, roofing, plumbing, automotive, mining and other industrial applications.
It is a world leader in the design and development of polymer components for systems that transport water from the reservoir to the tap or shower, milk from the cowshed to vat, and form part of vehicle hydraulics.
Skellerup, which employs 750 people, earns 80 per cent of its revenue from sales overseas and it has manufacturing/distribution facilities and partners in Australia, China, Vietnam, Britain, Italy and the United States, as well as in New Zealand.
Skellerup has just completed a record financial year and is looking to grow its international markets.
For the year ending June 2018, Skellerup's revenue increased $30 million to $240m, from $210m in the previous 12 months. The industrial division earned $151m, up 15 per cent, and Agri division $89m, up 12 per cent. Net profit rose 23 per cent to $27.3m. Debt has fallen from $118m to $31m. Over the past five years Skellerup's revenue has risen from $197m to $240m, primarily from growth in its overseas markets with North America becoming the biggest source of income at 30 per cent, followed by Australia at 22 per cent, New Zealand 21 per cent and Europe 14 per cent.
The results impressed the Deloitte Top 200 judges who described Skellerup as "a healthy story" and so named Skellerup winner of the OneRoof.co.nz Most Improved Performance category in the Deloitte Top 200 awards.
Skellerup chief executive David Mair said the team has worked hard and developed the game plan over the past three years. "The way I look at it is that if we get our processes right, the numbers will get better. The numbers are an outcome of process, and I'm pleased for the recognition the team is getting."
He said the Christchurch-based company is now quite a diversified business and it has a good hedge in turbulent markets.
"We have simplified our systems, made our reporting faster, and remained locked in and relevant to our customers. Our ethos is to develop strong, deep relationships with key partners, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and major distributors.
"Our customers see us as a key part of their R&D team and our branded products carry a strong and reliable reputation," Mair said.
"We work with the OEMs to solve a problem and they are willing to commit cash up front to pay for tooling and development.
"We know then they are locked in and committed."
Skellerup's $64m investment in a new development and manufacturing plant at Wigram following the earthquakes is now very productive. "We changed from a broken-down site of 20 buildings to one that has advantages of a modern layout and fresh equipment, and maintenance costs are down," said Mair. "We dug the machines out and refurbished every one of them, and we genuinely have a new facility for future growth and to attract the talent we want. We've just had one clear year with the facility without any hitches and that's given the Agri division another 50 years."
In July Skellerup bought a 35 per cent stake in the United States-based Sim Lim Technic to meet existing and new customer requirement for liquid silicone rubber products.
Mair said both the industrial and agri divisions have opportunities to grow. The industrial division is less dependent on oil and iron ore and more focused on water infrastructure.
"Population growth and ageing infrastructure requires investment and Skellerup is well-placed to supply high-value components that are a small but critical part in a finished system and application.
"Strong growth prospects in the agri division are driven by a growing Asian middle class and global demand for milk protein. Our products safeguard milk quality and animal health and welfare.
"We are doing a good job, but we are not complete yet," said Mair. "We still have a lot more to do."
Kathmandu, which enjoyed its most successful year in 2018, has set itself up for new international growth after buying United States footwear retailer Oboz.
"Oboz is an authentic outdoors brand from the mountains of Montana — just as we are from New Zealand," said Kathmandu chief executive Xavier Simonet.
"There is a great cultural alignment and this will provide a platform to grow in the future."
Simonet said Kathmandu would bring the Oboz footwear to Australia and New Zealand, while it will use the Oboz network to increase its own outdoors clothing and equipment sales in the United States.
"We have engaged strongly with customers over the last few years on values and sustainability, through social media and digital marketing. We have seen huge growth in younger customers (from 18 to 35 years), and we are excited by the opportunity to develop international wholesale channels for both Kathmandu and Oboz."
Kathmandu has increased its Summit Club membership to nearly 2 million, which covers New Zealand and Australia. "We are selling a story about our brand and products and offering our customers a better experience — whether it's buying online or through our stores," said Simonet.
"Everybody at Kathmandu can contribute to the success of the company by having a say in future strategy," said Simonet.
The Top 200 judges said it was a "good year for Kathmandu — both the metrics and the market response." After the last financial year, Kathmandu paid a $1000 bonus for 1700 staff, a pay-out of nearly $2 million.
The other 300 staff members had already received bonuses. Kathmandu has 165 stores in New Zealand and Australia. In the past financial year it increased its revenue by $52m or 12 per cent to $497m compared with $445m in the previous year — its growth coming from same-stores sales and the additional income from Oboz.
Online sales grew 36 per cent. Kathmandu's net profit was $50.5m, up 33 per cent.
State-owned enterprise Kordia, which delivered the first television and radio signals, has gone through many changes because of technological disruption, but it's still feeling on top of the world.
After more than 60 years of operating, Kordia's turning point came in 2012 when analogue television was switched to digital.
Kordia reassessed the situation, and developed its own "mission-control" technology to deliver innovative digital solutions for customers.
Kordia bought Aura Information Security and moved into the field of cyber security and Internet of Things. It used its high-frequency radio communications to deliver a life-saving maritime system, and also provides digital network telecommunications for customers such as Vodafone New Zealand, Sky Television, TVNZ, Mediaworks, Radio New Zealand, Spark, Freeview and The Radio Network.
In Australia Kordia provides contracting and consulting services to Telstra, Optus, Vodafone and Hutchison.
"We had a network to make TV work, and we made sure we delivered innovative digital solutions and highly reliable services for business," said Kordia chief executive, Scott Bartlett.
"We are good at working on the hard stuff and that's what propelled our turnaround. It's been a hard journey for the last five years but the new Kordia is feeling far more sustainable."
The Top 200 judges said Kordia was now performing strongly in a very competitive market off the back of strong innovation.
As part of its service, Kordia is constantly monitoring maritime safety through its Automated Identification System. "Our people in Wellington and Canberra are always listening out for mariners who need help at sea."
Bartlett said close to 50 per cent of Kordia's business is conducted in Australia. The SOE employs 800 people — 350 in New Zealand and 450 in Australia — and its turnover is now approaching $250 million.
For the year ending June 2018, Kordia recorded revenue of $217m compared with $200m (2017) and it went from a loss-making position to $5.6m net profit.