'Humane' rat trap goes global
A Rotorua businessman and his Waiheke Island brother-in-law are "living the cliche" after inventing a better rat trap and securing large global export orders.
Nooski Trap Systems co-founder David Wells says the company shipped 17,000 of the New Zealand-made traps, which retail overseas for about US$24 (NZ$29), to Indonesia alone in the past year.
They are sold in more than a dozen countries in all, with sales highest in the United States and Australia. Nooski also makes a smaller mouse trap that retails for about $10.
The all-plastic traps release a latex rubber ring that crushes and suffocates rodents so they die nearby in 10 to 20 seconds.
Wells says the five-year-old firm was the first to develop a consumer product using the technique. It was granted a full utility patent in the US in April and was expecting its European Union patent "any day".
"For a foreigner to achieve a utility patent in the US is a very difficult thing," he said.
The parts for the traps are injection-moulded in Auckland and assembled and packaged in Rotorua by a team of up to 12 contractors. Nooski is equally owned by Wells and brother-in-law Luc Desbonnets.
Wells says the traps are more humane and environmentally friendly than most alternatives. These include poison, which takes up to five days to kill, spring traps, which often maim rather than kill outright, and "catch-and-contain" traps that generate large amount of toxic waste.
"If killing could be classified as humane, it is the most humane system available."
Nooski has this year released a version for killing squirrels and chipmunks, and developed a prototype for possums which it regards as a smaller opportunity.
"Possums are a New Zealand problem, there are only 30 million of them and they live away from man," Wells says.
"Rats and mice are the most populous mammals on Earth, with numbers estimated at over 100 billion, and they choose to live with man."
ONLINE SELLING MADE EASIER
A Nooski mouse trap was the first New Zealand-made product sold through Amazon's Chinese online store.
Auckland company World Wide Access helps a dozen Kiwi manufacturers sell more than $1million of products a year into countries including the United States and Britain, handling the logistics, warehousing and online marketing.
It is now helping Nooski and babywear company Merino Kids sell into China through Amazon.cn.
World Wide Access founder Paul Grey, a software engineer, says it is not cheap to sell through Amazon, which charges a base 15 per cent commission, but he believes the US online retail giant is likely to do well in China because of its reputation. A top concern for well-to-do Chinese consumers is that imported items are genuine.
He says manufacturers need to be able to make a product for a third of the price they can retail it for to make a go of exporting. Until now the only way for many to sell products into China was to team up with a Chinese business, which often provided "zero visibility".
In theory, manufacturers could deal direct with Amazon without going through a second intermediary such as World Wide Access, but Wells said that in practice they were unlikely to get a favourable deal.