Carac Couplings and TrackGrip

A series of historic buildings in downtown Eltham isn’t where you’d expect to find one of the region’s leading innovators, but they are home to Carac Couplings and their product TrackGrip which is finding favour in both the New Zealand and global markets.

Innovation has been at the heart of the company since John Burling started producing trailer couplings 25 years ago. Since then the focus on creatively solving problems has seen the engineering business move from strength to strength to become one of New Zealand’s most advanced cutting and prototyping workshops.

TrackGrip is the latest in their growing portfolio of creations, and has rapidly elevated the company from engineer to exporter.

The TrackGrip product attaches to diggers, bulldozers and other tracked vehicles to increase traction and safety, particularly in hard to access or steep terrain.

“There’s just nothing comparable on the market today, and the benefits to machinery operators are enormous,” says Managing Director John Burling.

“After a year we took the product to an international expo, and were inundated with orders. That meant some quick thinking when it came to growing our operation to meet demand.”

Venture Taranaki were able to help out, linking Carac to a number of targeted training opportunities through the New Zealand Trade and Enterprise Capability Development Voucher scheme. The company has been able to access training providers to grow aspects of their business, including marketing, lean manufacturing, and strategic planning.

“Working with Venture Taranaki has made it really easy to engage with the right people to help us grow. Having up to 50 percent of the training funded by the vouchers has made a big difference, as has the support and information to enable us to choose the best solutions for the business,” says Carac’s Sonia Kiser.

“The voucher scheme is fantastic and we wouldn’t have been able to do a lot of the things we have if it wasn’t for the funding provided. It’s a great asset for any Taranaki business.”

The scheme linked Carac to marketing strategists Special Eyes, who worked with them to develop a marketing plan that has helped drive their increased export orders.

“We are now a lot more structured and organised in the way we approach promotion and as a result we’ve had a lot of success from our marketing initiatives. I’m learning a lot and really enjoying it,” says Sonia.

“We have learnt the skills to develop a new website, which our customers are finding easier to use, looks more professional and is driving increased overseas orders. We’re also finding the domestic market has heard of us, and that’s also making it easier to generate sales.”

The Voucher Scheme was also instrumental in the company adopting ‘Lean’ production principles, which have been applied to every aspect of the business, from the office to the shop floor, and undertaking succession planning to ensure Carac can continue to grow.

And the proof of this family-run company’s success is perhaps most felt not in export sales, but in the fact that John was this year able to take a month off to go on holiday, something many business owners aspire to.