Vega Industries setting world waters alight from Wellington

Vega Industries navigational buoys marking the Lincs Wind Farm, 8 kilometres off the east coast of England.

Vega Industries navigational buoys marking the Lincs Wind Farm, 8 kilometres off the east coast of England.

A Wellington marine lights manufacturer is setting the world alight and hiring staff overseas.

Porirua-based Vega Industries chief executive Arjen Maarleveld believes putting people on the ground overseas will help the business grow faster.

The business, which was founded in 1972, designs and manufactures high-end lights, technology and software for the specialised global "aid to navigation" market.

Omni-Mega beacon’s designed for the famous old Casquets Lighthouse in the English Channel.

Omni-Mega beacon’s designed for the famous old Casquets Lighthouse in the English Channel.

It exports 80 per cent of its product to core markets in North America, UK, Europe, South America and the Middle East.

Its navigational lights provide safe guidance in major waterways, ports and harbours from the English Channel, Panama Canal and Congo River to supporting the US Coast Guard.

Maarleveld who was appointed in January, was tasked with finding opportunities for the privately-owned, 40-person firm to grow.

Vega Industries CEO Arjen Maarleveld.
Mark Coote

Vega Industries CEO Arjen Maarleveld.

He has since hired two new senior executives.

Sophie Haslem has been appointed the company's first chief financial officer and will be based in Wellington.

New Zealander Hamish Wiig was appointed vice-president of business development in the Americas and will be based in Houston, Texas.

The business had been successful from its New Zealand base but had not made the effort to  get closer to its customers, Maarleveld  said.

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"This is a big change. With a base in the Americas we can work closely with partners, respond quicker and build up new markets."

It was difficult to understand a new market from halfway around the world and spending more time with customers would allow Vega to grow faster, he said.

It was consolidating strong markets in Europe, the Middle East and Australia, where it would employ people in coming months.

China was an untapped market and came with challenges, so Vega would wait until next year before putting someone in the market, he said.

Innovation continued to be a driver for the business.

The Vega PEL, named after the Physics and Engineering Laboratory of the old Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, is a significant revenue earner and it planned to launch an LED version next year. The light shows different colours when viewed from different angles, helping ships determine their position.

A Vega web service, for lights located in inaccessible places such as rocks or islands was also being developed.

The wireless connectivity would allow lights to be remotely monitored and controlled.

It is also working with Callaghan Innovation on advanced optics for the US Navy.

"We are giving them the business and hoping to collaborate with their innovation work during the next few years," Maarleveld  said.

The key goal was to take Vega to the next level, using the company's world-leading reputation to push into new growth markets such as private aids to navigation for ports, marinas and the oil and gas sector.

 - Stuff

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