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The PL Kite Economy.

Craig Hansen

I've now been back in New Zealand for nearly four weeks, intending not to travel away again until after Xmas.
Whee! Three months uninterrupted workshop time!---: Winch systems for UKS, the next Stirling engine prototype (unfinished business) , a speed record attempt buggy for NABX next year, working on the AP 'foil (more unfinished business), developing a new Pilot kite, and playing with a few old engines of course. Plus some pleasant evenings with good friends (if I can find some) and time for family (except that all the next generation have buggered off- I wonder why?)

Townsville, Coolum and Noumea (2 to 4 Oct), Shenzhen and Xiamen (China, 24 Oct to 3 Nov) were a threat to this stay at home intent but others covered for me. There were 6 people from here away at overseas events earlier this month and I wasn't one of them- this has to be a record.


So, yes, there are more kite festivals than ever, and the kite economy is in excellent shape from the PL Kites perspective with strong sales of traction and single line kites. Sure, it's not quite as exciting as the flush of orders and event invitations that followed development of the first large soft theme kites from about 1988.
Nor is it like the heady first few years of buggying in the early '90's or the explosion of kitesurfing from 1998.
But it's good solid growing business for all that- and especially so because the world is in recession.

So why are our kites selling so well just now?
Of course it's tempting to think that it's the just reward for 40 years of creativity and hard work, but even I am not that delusional- but then, but then,-- nah.

Or perhaps our various customers are now less fully employed so have more leisure- and naturally invest this time-and their savings- in more kiteflying? A tempting theory- but seriously at odds with the hunker-down mentality that recessions trigger.

Happenchance then, just a random event?

Herman and Jeannet
Herman and Jeannet

No, it's none of these.
Without any doubt it's because of the competence and dedication of the people who now own and operate the PL kite businesses.

The PL traction kite licensees (Vlieger Op in Holland) had tough times after the death of founding owner Gerard van der Loo. New owners Herman and Jeannet Bredewold were put through the kite industry ringer, but hard times develop good business habits in those with the ability and strength to survive, characteristics which Herman and Jeannet have in abundance.
Step by careful step they have transformed Vlieger Op into a professional organisation capable of sustained market leadership.

Michel Dekker
Michel Dekker
PL traction kites are now back on top in competition and coming very strongly in the markets. V Op's 'foil designer Michel Dekker's new race kite (the Vapour) is dominating racing and his mainstream Reactor 2 is no slug either-trouncing even some rival's special race kites. At the recent Euro Buggy finals Vapours took first place and 7 out of the first 10. Congratulations to Michel- it's great to be back on top, nearly 15 years after our original 1990 Peel 2 line design gave way to 4 line challengers such as the Quadrifoil Comp and the Flexi Sky Tiger -and 10 years since C Quads ruled the skies.

Jenny Cook
Jenny Cook

And, since Jenny Cook and Craig Hansen took over PL kites NZ Ltd and the main PL single line license in 2006, they've also been on a learning curve. It's now fair to say that they have successfully navigated the transition. Jenny is about the most organised and efficient person there's ever been and Craig provides strong complementary support with his business instincts and passion for kite flying. They have developed a strong team and an excellent manufacturing base. Especially pleasing for me is the design successes that Simon Chisnal has racked up- the Crab and Cuttlefish particularly - sure lets me off the hook. Thank you Simon- and to Jenny and Craig for sticking with it when things were tight.

In retrospect, the less than smooth path that each of these new businesses had to endure during the trsansition to new ownership is not surprising.
Businesses always look different from the inside and successions are always fraught. The major thing that new owners don't know when coming in is that they don't know what they don't know. Gerard had a special style and unique talents in business that were always going to be a hard act to follow, while Elwyn and I aso had our moments. New owners don't have, (fortunately for them) the unique obsessions that enable founders to take an idea through to commercial viability. But founders, almost by definition, don't have what it takes to make sustainable businesses- developing an organisation that will deliver consistently reliable high performance products. Both Vlieger Op bv and and PL Kites NZ Ltd are suceeding in this.

Congratulations Herman and Jeannet, Craig and Jenny, and thankyou.

Peter Lynn,
Ashburton, Oct 31 '09

Peter Lynn Kites Ltd
105 Alford Forest Rd
Ashburton 8300
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