When it comes to big, hairy, audacious goals Rory Kennard has the market cornered. He has plans for his construction products company Makinex to roll out 20 world-first products in 20 countries in 10 years.
The business is focused on global expansion plans and sourcing distributors in Japan, the US, Europe and the Middle East.
“Product research and development is constant, and robotics is next on the list,” Kennard says.
He says arriving at the goal to roll out 20 products in 20 countries in 10 years has helped focus the business. “It is easy for businesses to be opportunistic chasing every sale, especially when they are young and need every piece of income they can get. For many years we took on products that didn’t suit our brand and chased markets that were not core. “Once we decided on a 10-year goal and focused on that we’ve said no to many opportunities. This was challenging at first but we’ve become a much better business because of it.”
A more recent challenge for Makinex has been managing a huge growth spurt when a video of one of its products received more than 10 million views on social media.
“While this was an amazing few weeks, the challenges that have followed trying to manage design, production, supply chain and internal company growth have stretched every team member. It’s still challenging the company’s systems, processes and cash flow, even down to space in the factories for storage and production. Although it’s been exciting and positive for the business, it’s also been very challenging for everyone,” Kennard says.
He says if he had his time again with the knowledge he has now, he would have focused the business on a clear goal as early as possible.
“I would have taken a risk and invested more money in hiring the highly skilful staff that now look after certain parts of the business I don’t need to focus energy on. We also went for what we considered as easy options appointing distributors and dealers for the first two to three years in the US.
“In hindsight, we should have been more aggressive with our expansion and set up our first office in LA. It’s important to just go for it, and not be so tentative, which is the lesson we are taking from that experience as we expand into other countries. It also allows our business to maintain a close working relationship with our customers, which is where a number of our product ideas originate.”
So far, the business has been funded through personal loans using Kennard’s family home as equity. “We have never had external investors … but there might be the need for some serious cash at some point in our growth curve and we might have to look at all options.”
Kennard says the business is achieving 20 per cent growth a year, and is looking to achieve 30 per cent growth a year in the future. “Our goal as we come to the 10-year mark, is to have a $40 million turnover, with 20 new products in 20 countries.”
He acknowledges he’s constantly taking risks when developing new products. “Our latest product has taken four years to get production ready, longer than anticipated by about three years, which caused serious stresses in the business.”
But this work has paid off and sales of Hose2go, a constant pressure water supply unit, have been higher than expected.
“We are also continually taking risks by investing money in the sales and support of our products into new territories,” says Kennard.
Rory Kennard’s advice for goal-directed entrepreneurs:
· Be passionate about what you do.
· Make sure you have advantages your customers appreciate.
· Enjoy the good times and learn as much as you can during the tough times.
· Keep on moving, innovating, changing and evolving.
· Invest in people who are experts. This will allow you to focus on what you are passionate about and good at.