Fundamentals remain

By Daniel Taylor, head of manufacturing, NZTE

Historically, New Zealand manufacturing exporters have thrived on conducting business face-to-face. Whether it be a trade show in Europe, or commissioning a new piece of machinery in Asia, we’ve always been comfortable hopping on planes and visiting customers on their turf.

COVID-19 has forced a radical rethink of that approach, but while the delivery mechanisms might be different, we’ve seen the fundamentals remain.

Communicate. With change happening globally at such a fast pace, what is true today might not be so tomorrow, and that’s why communication is key. Whether you’re talking to suppliers, customers or in-market partners, keeping them well-informed of your reality and what it means for them, as well as taking time to really understand their situation, is paramount. There is enough uncertainty already in the minds of your customers – try not to add to it.

Innovate. If it’s not a face-to-face trade show, how might a zoom meeting best work? Could a really great Virtual Reality installation guide help mitigate the fact you can’t move people as freely as previously? What new or emerging global opportunities could your business now tap in to? Kiwis have always been great innovators, and challenging times call for new solutions to old problems. Get creative, keep your customer at the centre of your thinking, and harness New Zealand’s innovative mindset.

Connect. While at times it may feel like it, you’re not alone and it’s almost guaranteed that whatever challenges you’re facing others are facing them too. Connect with others in your sector. Connect with your advisors. Connect with contacts in your key markets who can help you gain insight into the market reality. Go looking for people and information that will be able to push you forward on your journey. You might feel a long way from your export markets, but you are certainly not alone.

We will have to continue to do things differently in global marketplaces, but New Zealand manufacturers are innovative, highly skilled and resilient, and I am confident our manufacturing exporters will continue to be competitive on the global stage. NZTE has a number of useful guides and resources to help our manufacturers and I encourage anyone who isn’t yet, to become an NZTE customer. You can do so here

Daniel leads NZTE’s Manufacturing Export Customers team. He has held roles as trade commissioner in Europe and Australia, and NZTE private secretary to the Minister for Economic Development. Before joining NZTE, Daniel was operations manager at Global Fruits. 

The information and opinions within this column are not necessarily the views or opinions of Xpress Engineer NZ, NZ Engineering News or the parent company, Hayley Media.