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Scarlett Hydraulics

Learn how a New Zealand hydraulics firm is using technology to provide innovative solutions to clients all over the world, made possible by their team of committed staff.

Demand from all corners of the world for Scarlett Hydraulics' innovative technology hasn’t come as a surprise to founder Paul Bowman.

“We started the business in Timaru in 1984 and the staff here have spent many years working hard to become the best in their field,” says Paul.

The company designs hydraulics solutions for the agricultural, construction, forestry, marine and power industries. Their work takes them all over the world, with projects in Asia, Europe and the US.

Working from the ground up

The team has grown over the years and with 28 staff spread across Tauranga, Timaru and Christchurch, CEO Shane Brookland has been busy managing the company’s rapid growth.

“I joined Scarlett Hydraulics in 1993 and worked on the parts counter. I managed to quickly progress and got a chance to work as store manager, purchasing and sales manager, and then the general manager in Timaru.

“So I’ve been in the business, and worked in enough parts of the business, to really understand how it works from on the ground to around the board table,” says Shane.

In 2008 Shane became the CEO of Scarlett Hydraulics.

Scarlett Hydraulics - workers

Planning for success

Founder Paul Bowman began succession planning a decade ago, around the time when Shane Brookland bought into the business.

“We created a board of directors in 2006 after thinking carefully about how we wanted to govern the business,” says Paul.

Both Paul and Shane have used the board to check thinking and ideas, and make sure big decisions were made with the board's support.

“We’ve found having a board has really helped with growth, succession planning and the continued evolution of the company,” says Shane.

Supporting staff growth

The company ethos is to support its own staff in growth, one that is fully embraced by CEO Shane, who is living proof of this.

“We’re very keen on hiring school leavers and by meeting with career advisors and speaking at local schools we hope to encourage young people to join the industry, and we pay the market rate rather than the youth rate”, says Shane.

"We also support staff if they want to study further while working."

Scarlett Hydraulics - Connor

“Part of the succession plan is to make sure when we are looking at promoting people we are actively engaging them in training skills that are practical to their role or career path,” says Shane.

“Part of the succession plan is to make sure when we are looking at promoting people we are actively engaging them in training skills that are practical to their role or career path,” says Shane.

This can be in people skills, business skills or health and safety.

Expanding through partnerships and acquisitions

The business operates with product partnerships, they import and service world recognised brands like Eaton and Vickers.

“We’ve expanded the business by acquisition of similar businesses, and have implemented their systems where it made sense,” says Shane.

“Our business stays ahead of the game by having top quality staff whose dedication and commitment keeps our service level incredibly high,” says Shane.

“Our business stays ahead of the game by having top quality staff whose dedication and commitment keeps our service level incredibly high,” says Shane.

Moving with the times has been a focus for Shane. He’s kept the business focussed on being on the cutting edge when it comes to technology, and by servicing a steady customer base that wants innovative solutions.

“We’re always focused on what’s happening next. Technology is changing the way we operate and there’s no other option but to embrace the change,” says Shane.

“Critical to our success has been the company’s attitude towards its team.”

He suggests the following key points for businesses looking to create a successful environment for their staff:

  • Promote from within your team.
  • Support your employees' professional growth.
  • Encourage skills training for new and existing staff.
  • Attract youth to join your industry.
  • Hire staff that can maintain your company’s high service levels.
  • Manage growth through succession planning.