Can you tell me a bit about your business?
Puma Darts is an international marketing and manufacturing company based in Katikati. We currently sell our Puma and Shot! branded darts to 74 countries, and to some of the large international sporting chains, specialist darts stores and e-commerce sites globally. We have 24 full time staff, all based at our operation in Katikati.
How did the company get its start and how has it changed over time?
Puma Darts was founded by my father in 1970, when he saw an opportunity to manufacture dartboards for the New Zealand market. From here we expanded into making bristle dartboards and darts, and then to being a full solution provider for all dart needs.
We started by selling into New Zealand, but we quickly realised the market here wasn't big enough to sustain a specialist dart company and we needed to expand globally. We now export more than 95 per cent of what we produce. In 1994 we released the Bandit dartboard - the first bladed, staple free dartboard - which revolutionised the world of dartboards, and is now the global standard.
Changes in technologies and markets have forced us to evolve into a high-end niche manufacturer, and we now specialise in producing high end, specialist darts and dartboards. Our dartboards are recognised as the best in the world and used in most of the prestigious dart tournaments around the world. We also manufacture for world champions and other leading dart brands.
What factors do you think have made the company stand the test of time?
It's probably our tenacity, innovation and absolute commitment to getting things done.
To be a successful manufacturer you've got to do things a bit differently; you often have to think outside the square. We've been really strong on coming up with new ideas, developing the latest and greatest designs in dartboards and darts and then bringing those to market. Sometimes that takes a huge amount of tenacity and commitment to get it done, but we keep going until we get it right.
For example, I called on someone who is now one of our key international distributors twice a year for nine years until at last he decided to give us a go, but he's now our third largest customer. I knew we needed to be involved with them, but it was just a matter of convincing them to give us a try.
We've also focused heavily on customers and what they need, and we've developed the ability to be a short-run specialist manufacturer of orders that others in our industry can't get to. That means we currently manufacture more than 600 different dart models to suit the different needs of each individual dart market.
What does the next phase look like for the company?
We have some big goals and aspirations for the business. We're growing at close to 20 percent a year, and we're slowly cracking some of the worlds largest dart markets.
The dart industry is changing rapidly and e-commerce and is becoming a key part of our business. But we're still firmly committed to our New Zealand manufacturing roots, and to operating in New Zealand. We want to keep true to our heritage as we grow.