Among New Zealand’s best food technology export success stories is Haden & Custance, a Hawke’s Bay firm specialising in the design, manufacture and automation of handling equipment for the food industry, particularly dairy, worldwide.
Hayden & Custance has created a whole new category of automation in the cheese processing industry with the design, manufacture and installation of high-tech automated material-handling solutions – incorporating industrial robots and laser-guided vehicles.
The company demonstrated its technology at the International Cheese Technology Expo (ICTE) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, last month alongside several other New Zealand companies, to identify opportunities with some of the big multinational players in the dairy automation industry.
The company was established in 1965, its head office and manufacturing facility is located in Hastings, Hawke’s Bay, with a satellite office in Melbourne, Australia, and representation in the UK and USA.
In these markets, Haden & Custance maintains market dominance with very prominent business names, working closely with market leaders. Its objective is fully understanding and maximising its continually evolving customer value proposition.
General Manager Sales and Marketing Martin Kirk says the company’s innovative automated packing and handling equipment is favoured by “cheese companies that realise the limitations of their current production processes. They quickly see the benefits of Haden & Custance’s technologies to their bottom line,” he says.
New Zealand’s food and beverage industry is well positioned for substantial growth, with exports on track to double in value in the next 15 years to $US40 billion ($NZ46 billion) according to the released the 2014 edition of the Investors’ Guide to the New Zealand Food and Beverage industry, released by the government recently.
New Zealand’s food and beverage exports have grown at 11 percent each year for a decade and are now worth US$20 billion. Our export performance is improving relative to other temperate food exporting countries.
Haden & Custance has secured over $US10 million in deals in North America this year and, with the support of NZTE in-market, identified several other significant leads during ICTE.
At the show, Haden & Custance demonstrated a 3D model of one of their turnkey projects in the US, along with a real-time return-on-investment calculator that allows manufacturers to see the impact of the company’s solutions on their bottom lines.
It created quite a stir, and it seems that the company’s combination of old-fashioned style customer service and cutting-edge technology has found a sweet spot in North America.
The company has positioned itself in the niche market of automated 40Ib (18kg) cheese block handling technologies. This strategy is paying dividends, particularly in the US market, because H&C is becoming recognised as the expert in this field. Leading companies are attracted by its core competencies and in being able to provide a turnkey, bespoke technical solution that works well and repays the investment.
So what can H&C’s success teach other NZ food tech exporters?
Martin Kirk says Haden & Custance's success can teach other food tech exporters that "it's a big market out there, with many challenges, risks and opportunities. “Understanding your business, where you can add customer value are key,” he says. “Which market[s]are best suited – based on key information variables such as geographic location, your positioning, target customer profiling – will help you develop a clearly defined strategy.”
SMART goals and milestones help maintain a positive focus, he says. Most importantly, he says – “Strive for the BHAG – the Big Hairy Audacious Goal, the one that takes you outside your individual and collective comfort zones, in the knowledge that most likely someone before you has already achieved your present objectives.
“And don’t be hesitant to seek out the wisdom required by asking for assistance – your local New Zealand Trade and Enterprise representatives are well placed to advise.”
New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) is the Government’s international business development agency, helping to boost global reach and build capability so our companies can grow bigger, better, faster. More at nzte.govt.nz