Ethics as important as sales for survival kit maker

Last updated 10:32 06/11/2012
Matthew Dallas

WELL PREPARED: Enjoying the rapid growth of their company are Survive-it managing director Rod Hall and sales account manager Tracey Lever.

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Making the Deloitte Fast 50 list of growing businesses is an endorsement of how Survive-it is being run, says managing director Rod Hall.

This includes the decision not to actively seek business in and around Christchurch following the September 2010 and February 2011 earthquakes.

The emergency equipment company, which moved from Plimmerton to Grenada Business Park 18 months ago, has grown its revenue by 175 per cent in the past three years - grabbing 41st place on the Deloitte list - but not through aggressive sales tactics.

"Since the quakes, we deliberately avoided targeting Christchurch. We didn't want to take advantage of it. If they come to us, that's great," says Mr Hall.

He says his team members have worked hard to build the company up, and making the Deloitte list was validation they were doing it the right way.

"We're going ahead in leaps and bounds," he said.

It means a lot to him that Survive-it was established before the quakes - out of a Hutt Valley garage in 2005 - and that staff are trained in civil defence skills.

"Our staff are trained in what we do. Being able to give good advice is a critical part of our business."

Mr Hall is also a search and rescue master with Coastguard Mana and is qualified in rope rescue and trained in swift water rescue.

He and wife Bridget settled in New Zealand in 2002, from Britain, after circumnavigating the world in a small wooden yacht.

A lot of emergency equipment sellers "popped up" after the earthquakes to make a quick buck, says Mr Hall.

Competing against them has been frustrating.

"A lot of the time, they're not real kits. They're just so people can tick the box of having one . . . It's $2 shop stuff in these kits."

While some families may be swayed by cheaper kit options, Survive-it has had little trouble engaging with the corporate and public sectors.

"We believe we're the only company that provides the full life cycle of earthquake preparedness for the workplace, from an initial free assessment of needs to ongoing product maintenance," says Mr Hall. "Our customers are people who recognise the importance of workplace preparedness and place a high priority on caring for their staff. They want products they can rely on.

"Trust and performance are key."


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