08 October 2014

Boatmaker keen to expand in Australia

The Southland Times

A successful southern boat manufacturer is tapping into the Australian market. Frews Marine Ltd owner Brendan Frew said the company was looking to expand its business and secure dealers in the main centres of Australia.

The company manufactures and sells boats throughout the world from its Invercargill factory. It mainly exports to Australia, the Pacific Islands, Canada and China. The company has 23 models of Frewza aluminium pontoon boats, from 3 metres to 7 metres. The company often exported boats to Australia without chasing orders, so expanding into the country was “a natural path to take”, Frew said. He was confident his business would do well because of the quality of his boats.

The Australian market, although competitive, was dominated by low-cost and low-quality boats compared to New Zealand. The company had been given a $3000 grant from the Export Southland Trust, which it intended to use for a research and development trip to Australia. It all started in Frew;s garage at his home in Otatara in 2006. Frew, who owned a boat before his first car, manufactured a 4m aluminium dinghy, which was sold to the first person who saw it. “That was 800 boats ago.” The company has since grown every Year as demand continues to increase. It moved into a new premises in Bond St three years ago. Frew didn’t expect the company would take off like it had, though he had noticed a lot of the company’s original customers who had bought 4m dinghies had come back for upgrades. “Some of our customers are onto their third boat.”