Cricket is a game revered for keeping with tradition, but a Waipawa cricket bat-making business is embracing a modern method to finance its expansion plans.
The largest cricket bat-maker in the country, Laver and Wood, produces about 1200 of its hand-crafted, custom-made cricket bats from its factory on the main street of Waipawa every year.
Made to measure for each individual batsman from imported English willow, and ranging in price from $300 to $2500, the majority of Laver and Wood cricket bats are sold to overseas customers, including in the United States (39 per cent of sales) and Australia (29 per cent).
Today the company is launching a month-long equity crowdfunding campaign on pledgeme.co.nz where - for a minimum investment of $500 - eligible New Zealand and overseas investors can purchase $1 shares in the business.
With a minimum target of $250,000 and a maximum goal of $1 million - representing 6 per cent to 20 per cent of the company - the campaign would put the value of the business at around $5m, if fully subscribed.
Managing director James Laver said with six staff at present and the sound of leather hitting Laver and Wood cricket bats growing increasingly louder around the world, the new investment was needed for his business to grow.
"Effectively we'd be training up a new bat-maker and taking on more staff to increase production.
"We need to put money into our marketing which can increase your sales quite dramatically,' said the UK-born Mr Laver, a former construction engineer in London, who had a complete change in career in 1992 when he started training as a bat-maker at Millichamp & Hall in Somerset.
After arriving in New Zealand, Mr Laver - now a master bat-maker who has individually crafted more than 30,000 cricket bats - established Laver and Wood in 1999 with George Wood, before buying out his business partner in 2004.
Cricket may be a sport admired for its traditions, but Mr Laver said, as sole owner of the business, he had tried to embrace new technologies and marketing techniques.
The decision to seek new investment dollars online was made with his tens of thousands of Facebook followers in mind, the 45-year-old said.
"We are a very traditional product in the way our bats are made and what we do in the workshop and the level of craftsmanship, but yeah, the digital side of things is very different these days and as any business, you've got to embrace them.
"The main reason for going this way [with the crowdfunding campaign] is that we have a really broad customer base and a good following on Facebook - we've got around 37,000 followers - and effectively we are looking to give a chance to our customers and followers to actually have some shares in the company."
Speaking before today's launch, a positive Mr Laver said an encouraging number of investors had registered for the crowdfunding campaign.
"The vibe is very good. We've had over 450 people register so far, so that's great.
"I mean if we don't reach that $250,000 target we'll just carry on as we are. But if we do, that's great. There's an opportunity to really push things forward."
The company's financials are included in an Information Memorandum which was released ahead of today's launch of the crowdfunding campaign, which will run until early December.