Business booms for wildlife tracking maker
by Joe Dawson
The staff at Havelock North wildlife tracking equipment firm Sirtrack may only have moved a matter of metres to their new digs, but might as well have been to another planet.
Phenomenal growth for the company in recent years has meant a move from the series of drafty clapped-out portable cabins it called home for nearly 20 years to a purpose-built facility formally opened last week.
Sirtrack specialises in the design and manufacture of wildlife tracking equipment, and has supplied customised tracking solutions to researchers, conservationists and wildlife managers throughout the world since 1986.
For years, the subsidiary of Landcare Research, worked out of the poky prefab ofﬁces in Havelock North. But growth in recent years has forced the move to new premises, and is a reﬂection of what chief executive Mike Kelly described as a booming business.
“Our wildlife tracking sales have more than doubled in the last three years from $2.2 million to $4.8 million and we expect them to double again in the next five years, he said. “It’s exciting times for us.”
Investment in new products, specifically GPS based products, tailoring products for specific research, and a bigger market presence in the US was driving the growth, he said.
Now 38 staff, including design engineers, sales and marketing people and technicians are employed by the company, which is one of only three of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere.
“The portacoms were a bit rough, and the carpets a bit threadbare, but they were home for a while.
“Now we’ve got smart modern offices and a production facility.
In the past, assembly technicians would have to traipse across the carpark from one workshop to another with half-finished devices, and the staff all had their own areas.
The new open plan space means communication between the design, build and marketing teams is now much easier.
Sirtrack has supplied tracking devices to Meerkat Manor researchers and the late Steve Irwin, and in total have provided research equipment for more than 550 species of wildlife – from small insects to whales.
Its ability to adapt is Sirtrack‘s strength, Mr Kelly said.
“l think our clients come to Sirtrack because they know of our reputation of providing the best service available as well as our flexibility to adapt to their specific research needs and our truly unique products.
Photo caption – GLOBAL MARKET: A rare Olive Ridley Turtle, being studied in India, wears a GPS tracker made in Havelock North.
Photo caption – TRACKING NICELY: Mike Kelly with two of the GPS units the company manufactures in Havelock North. These ones are used for tracking turtles like the lndian Olive Ridley turtle in the background picture.
PICTURE / GLENN TAYLOR