Shot Darts has invested in new titanium plating plant that it says will position the Katikati-based company as a leader in the international darts industry.
The titanium plating plant is behind the vibrant colour coatings on the company’s darts and also delivers a durable coating that doesn’t chip and helps keep a dart’s edges and grip intact. The family-owned company has already built a strong global reputation for its products.
Managing director Peter McCormick said the purchase speaks to the company’s obsession with darts, which goes back almost 50 years to when his father, John McCormick, took over the business.
“To the best of my knowledge, we’re the only precision darts manufacturer in the world to manage the entire manufacturing process in-house,” he said.
“From initial concepts, to packing our beautifully finished tungsten darts by hand ready for shipment, we get it all done here at our factory in New Zealand. It gives us complete control, from go to woah. Not just over quality, but also lead times and consistency
From machining, coating to machine pointing, laser etching, inspection and packing – every 90 percent tungsten barrel is precision crafted and match weighted to within plus or minus .05gm.
McCormick said customer expectations for lead times were getting shorter, and that he expected that bringing the entire process in-house would reduce turnaround times by at least two weeks.
“It enables us to be more flexible, to respond quicker to customer needs.”
The company has backed up its investment by hiring a machine operator with a Master’s Degree in Chemistry, a role McCormick expected to have a strong research and development focus.
“We want to see what the machine is really capable of,” he said.“We’re excited about continuing to push the envelope. And getting our ideas out there, into the hands of players, faster.”
However, the process of getting the machine to Shot Darts Katikati factory and up-and-running hasn’t been without its difficulties, said McCormick.
“There have been challenges, but nothing insurmountable. Just a few things that have required a bit of Kiwi ingenuity along the way.”
McCormick said the challenges had also showcased some of the great things about being a Kiwi business.
“There’s been a lot of help from other New Zealand businesses and business leaders. When there’s been a problem, they’ve turned up on our doorstep to help us. I’m pretty sure that doesn’t happen in other countries. We’re hugely proud to manufacture our darts in New Zealand.”
John Baxter, vice president of Magic Darts, a distributor of Shot Darts in the US, said quality and innovation were two areas where Shot Darts had always stood out, and where they were always breaking new ground.
“There’s a real pride in what they deliver,” he said. “We’re looking forward to seeing how the new plating machine will contribute to that, and what it will mean for our customers.”
McCormick noted that the new plant also symbolised Shot Darts’ dedication to doing things in a more sustainable and environmentally friendly way, which was becoming increasingly important in some of the company’s key markets.
To the best of my knowledge, we’re the only precision darts manufacturer in the world to manage the entire manufacturing process in-house.”
– Peter McCormick
“Germany is a big market for us and there is a growing demand there, from young people in particular, for products and businesses that demonstrate a commitment to sustainability.”
With the darts previously travelling as far as China at times for plating, the emissions generated by flying them there and back was something the company was happy to see an end to.
“We’re also looking forward to reducing our carbon footprint through the use of cleaner energy sources in the plating process (renewable energy sources make up more than 80 percent of New Zealand’s electricity generation versus less than 40 percent in China).”
McCormick said the purchase also spoke to the company’s commitment to staff, the community and the darts industry, as it approached its 50th year in 2020.
“There is a definite excitement in the team, they’re invested in the outcome. There’s a lot of pride. It’s also good for the community to see the future of the business and what we’re working toward. It demonstrates our commitment to being based in the Katikati community.
“Darts gets into your blood. We’re here for the long haul.”