Masport targets American niche
Masport, the Kiwi-owned lawnmower manufacturer, has hit the United States market running and sold more than 1000 units in its first few months' trading there.
The Auckland-based company has annual sales of around $80 million and sells 150,000 lawnmowers in 42 countries, double that of five years ago.
Masport's major market is Australia which accounts for about 60 per cent of exports, followed by the UK, Germany and Poland.
General manager Steve Hughes said the company aims to grow the European and US markets to rival that in Australia and would shrink its reliance on the mature New Zealand market.
Hughes is expecting globally sales to jump by another 30,000 mowers in the next four years, on the back of growing recognition of the brand offshore.
It's break into the lucrative US market was helped by presenting at the GIE+EXPO for outdoor power equipment in Louisville. It will attend again this month (October).
The expo caters for specialist dealers from throughout the US and has seen Masport secure two distributors in its first season which runs from March until August. It will be looking to increase that to six or seven in a country which has 60 per cent of the world's outdoor power equipment market.
"It's taken us three years to get to this point," said Hughes.
"We've found a niche in America by designing and engineering a range of high-end lawnmowers specifically for their market conditions."
The company also has 15 distributors in Europe.
It has moved into the number two slot behind market leader Victor in Australia after trebling sales there in the past five years. The company doesn't divulge actual sales numbers though.
The company has had to create three different product ranges and about 300 models to satisfy consumer demand and varying safety standards in each of its key markets.
"We spent years planning how we would enter the US because we like to take a long-term approach and the lawnmower market is extremely competitive globally," Hughes said.
"In the US, three manufacturers alone each produce more than a million mowers a year."
Masport has 70 staff at its Mt Wellington headquarters and 20 in Australia and expects to add another 10 in line with global growth.
The bulk of manufacturing was moved to a dedicated plant in China about six years ago which allowed it to become globally competitive, Hughes said.
The company, which made grenades and tank tracks during World War II, last year celebrated its centenary.
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