Having great relationships with clients and a product worth talking about has got Ke Kelit NZ’s high-end piping, HVAC and plumbing products into some of the largest projects in the country. General Manager Adam Lett talks about moving forward and never stopping to pat yourself on the back for too long.
Originally founded in 1945 by Austrian Karl Egger, Ke Kelit manufactures and distributes its high quality durable plastic and metallic pipes in 30 countries around the world. Four years ago, Adam Lett and seven others went into a joint partnership with the Egger family to bring their innovative products here.
He says being in the right place at the right time had a lot to do with it. “I'd known about the products for a number of years, about their innovation and quality. I also knew the Business Development guy in this part of the world.”
Adam and his partners kicked ideas around with a few different people before they went into business. At the time there were lots of low quality and low-cost products in the space and a big gap at the high quality end.
“Lots of our products are unique, with some real unique selling points. There's no one on the same level as us.”
Ke Kelit, the parent company, brings New Zealand the economies of scale they get from being in markets all around the world. Adam also appreciates the huge technical resource they put behind the local company. “We go over there once or twice a year, take clients and our staff over for training.”
Looking back, Adam says Ke Kelit New Zealand’s first two years were “a bit nerve racking”. “Our route to market is to engage with the owners of the building or the consultants around quality and lifecycle cost. They don't let you in easy, they have to trust you.” He says sheer determination and persistence got them there in the end and they’re now specified by New Zealand’s leading consultants. “We can be honest about what they should use, not what we've got to sell.”
Ke Kelit New Zealand started off with just two people in the office and has grown to 12 full-time staff in Lower Hutt with sales and technical staff established around the country. Adam says he's grateful to have really good people working for him. “All of our staff are pretty amazing, everyone in the whole team realises it’s a young company and growing. It's not unusual to go in there on a Saturday and find two or three of our team in there working away.”
Getting involved with Kiwibank
Ke Kelit New Zealand’s relationship with Kiwibank happened gradually. They first went to Kiwibank to finance some of their vehicles then got some working capital and then later approached them for foreign exchange and funding for the building. He’s super pleased with how it’s going. "Jayden Devonshire is the guy we deal with day to day, there wouldn’t be a month go past we wouldn’t talk to him about something."
“Kiwibank's really good, fantastic to deal with. Nothing is a problem. We phone them up and say, ‘this is the lay of the land’."
Just four years on, Ke Kelit New Zealand is involved in some of New Zealand’s biggest projects, including supplying the 40,000 metres of stainless steel in the Justice and Emergency Precinct in Christchurch – a building that has to be able to support itself for ten days after an emergency. In spite of their success, Adam prefers to keep looking ahead, “there's never a time to sit back and pat yourself on the back because you got to keep moving forward.”
What does moving forward look like to Adam? He’s buoyant. “We've just secured the distribution rights for another few top quality brands so the potential for the business is amazing.”
When Kiwi businesses join Kiwibank, Kiwibank joins them - we know that when it comes to what keeps you going, it's not just business, it's personal.