Syft - the Christchurch maker of instruments for analysing air quality - is doubling in size every year, but difficulty recruiting senior staff has emerged as a barrier to even faster growth.
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Managing director Doug Hastie says Syft increased staff numbers by 35 per cent from 78 people to 105 in its last financial year.
It's currently at 113. "I'd hire another 50 tomorrow, if I could find them," Hastie says.
"We've got no shortage of opportunity. Just a shortage of people. It's our biggest constraint to growth."
Syft grew sales 70 per cent last year.
For the first half of its current financial year (the six months to September 30), revenue rose 95 per cent to $13.9m.
It could have been more, with more bodies on board. Hastie says a local tech skills shortage is part of the problem, but with specialised chemistry, physics and maths skills needed on his PhD-heavy staff, around 70 per cent are already hired from overseas.
Hastie says staff who arrive in Christchurch love it but, in general, many potential recruits are wary of moving to the bottom of the world.
His answer is to open more overseas offices. Earlier this year, Syft set up shop in Singapore and South Korea. Offices in the US and Japan are planned in the coming months.
He also says the press to fill orders and recruit means Syft has fallen behind with another goal: training younger staff.
Syft was originally spun out of Canterbury University's commercialisation arm in 2003. It spent the first decade of its life burning through $29m in investors' cash with little to show for it and was down to a handful of staff when Hastie was parachuted in during 2012 to attempt a turnaround.
The Yale-educated Kiwi restructured manufacturing and R&D but, equally, put a new emphasis on sales.
"New Zealanders treat salespeople like dogs," he told this reporter at the time. "As a New Zealander, I feel ashamed of it. We've got to recognise that doesn't matter how good a product is unless it's sold."
His time in the US had taught him that geeks, and the country at large had to "stop treating sales like a dirty word".
Hastie himself is quite the pitchman. You've probably seen him on TV pushing tea and biscuits made by his other company, Chanui (in which he has a 100 per cent shareholding).
Syft's spectrometers were originally conceived with a relatively narrow range of uses, such as monitoring air quality in shipping containers, to detect any spoiled goods.
Today, they're being sold for an array of uses. The South Korean government is using them to measure air quality in cities. And Samsung was Syft's first customer in the semiconductor market, where dust-free air is paramount.
Car makers including GM and Ford also came onboard, as automakers found Syft's chemical sniffers useful for calibrating cars for different markets ("Westerners like the 'new car smell' but Asian consumers find it offensive," Hastie said earlier).
The Samsung deal helped bring another chip-making giant onboard - Micron. Earlier this year, Syft received a letter of intent for more than $13m worth of Syft's new "Ultra" spectrometers, which are both more sensitive and more expensive than its previous kit.
After multiple periods in the black (it made $4.8m last year), Syft slipped to a $1.1m loss in the first-half.
Hastie puts the dip into the red down to accounting standard changes, plus some deliveries slipping into the next financial year - in part because of the aforementioned staff squeeze.
Cash edged up slightly in the half, but was still at a modest $2.6m. Hastie says there are no capital raising plans on the horizon, however.
He does want to fulfil his ultimate aim to list, but again he doesn't see Syft under any pressure to go public. He would like to build revenue higher first. He sees an IPO in two to four years' time.
When it does list, they'll be a big potential payoff for Syft's three largest investors today: ACC (16 per cent), Hastie (15 per cent) and Ngai Tahu Capital (12 per cent).