Stories of Innovation - Appliance Systems
SCOTT®'s knowledge of designing and developing cutting-edge production-lines for the New Zealand and Australian marketplaces was complemented by their experience of manufacturing white goods. The company recognised that they could use this combination to effectively break into the American automated production machinery market and greatly expand the geographic reach and business.
Graham Batts recalls the breakthrough into the important U.S. marketplace.
I travelled to the United States in 1975 and set about networking with a lot of potential clients, including someone from Electrolux who I had previously met, and who had expressed interest in our Australian manufacturing lines and innovatory approach.
Electrolux were themselves in the process of launching a new product line, meaning they were open to a different approach to mass manufacturing, so the timing was perfect. They recognised that our production equipment and methods could be an answer to their large manufacturing volume requirements. Following my initial meeting with their senior executives, they expected me to return to New Zealand to co-ordinate a proposal with the SCOTT team. However, I felt timing would be crucial to cement the deal and spent the weekend following the meeting, sketching potential designs and preparing a layout in my hotel room.
The executives were impressed with what they saw as a "well thought through solution" to their pending production problem, which I was able to present to them only 48 hours later. Having never seen anything like my design and proposal, they took the risk of dealing with "an outsider", and agreed to a $6million order there and then. SCOTT's biggest project to that point had been $400,000, so such a large overseas contract presented us with considerable challenges. This meant our team had to quickly upscale resources to be able to respond, however, we were certainly up for the challenge. Not only was that first order the beginning of ongoing work from Electrolux, the breakthrough opened up massive new market possibilities in the States.
We also successfully used such a direct approach with potential clients in Europe and Asia, developing several opportunities which we quickly exploited. It was very hard work, however, we proved that a small New Zealand business could successfully compete with much larger rivals in the global marketplace. Additionally, our innovative ideas, quality workmanship, technical expertise and responsive approach to building strong business relationships surprised many potential clients, and won business for us. It was the beginning of SCOTT's very successful export story.
Now, the whole of our appliance-line manufacturing work is off-shore and we are well known amongst all the major appliance manufacturers around the world.