Founder: Steve Cormack
HQ: New Plymouth
Tell us about your business.
I am a contract mechanical design engineer, specialising in product development. I transform ideas into successful new parts, products, and production machinery.
Who and where are your target customers?
My target customers range from large scale manufacturing companies to sole operators who have a great idea for a product but need assistance with turning it into reality. I service all of New Zealand, although so far my work has all come from the North Island.
How and when did you first come up with the idea for your business?
I worked for Fisher & Paykel for two years, and then Gallagher for almost ten years as a design engineer in their Product Development and R&D departments respectively. I love the work. Family reasons led to a move to New Plymouth and the opportunity arose to work as a contractor, which I grabbed with both hands.
What are your three biggest unique selling points?
- Quality of output. All the work is done by an experienced and knowledgeable engineer with an accomplished background in product development.
- Partnerships. Product development is a team sport and I have 15+ years’ worth of contacts in the field who I know do good work. I also naturally slot into the customer’s team and often catch myself saying ‘we’ and ‘us’ in reference to them.
- Tools. Product development is a technical field and it requires investment in the right tools. SCME has top tier computer equipment, software, and excellent physical facilities. Particularly for smaller customers this is a boon, because the set-up cost for them is often prohibitive.
What are three things about your business that you are proud of?
I’m most proud of the output – the quality designs that are manufacture-friendly and delight the customers. Attention to detail is the key. I’m also proud of the way the business has grown to a point where it is serving multiple major customers and I’m proud of what the successes have enabled me to do in terms on investment back into the supporting industries and the community as a whole.
How do you market your business and what advice do you have for others around marketing?
To be honest, most of my leads come from word of mouth. I obviously have a website and some social media presence which all contributes. I went crazy on merchandise a while back and I have some community sponsorship signage.
What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced in building your business so far?
Probably growing my customer base, and balancing this with my capacity. Projects range in length from one day to more than a year, so one needs to be careful not to over-commit, while at the same time keeping a healthy pipeline of jobs coming in. I’m happy with where things are but one day soon I’ll need to have a serious think about scalability.
What is the biggest entrepreneur lesson you would like to share with other Kiwis thinking of starting their own business?
Go out. Socialise. Meet people.
When I first started I was working all day every day on a big project and it seemed like I only interacted with customers and my immediate family for about a year. Looking back now, I realise what a bore I had become. I had some things go wrong in my personal life and that was the catalyst for a much-needed change in my outlook. Business can be all-consuming, but you need to balance it with other things in order to be a happy entrepreneur.