A small Manawatu muffler-maker is quietly taking on the world, shipping its motorbike mufflers to far-flung countries.
Manawatu Muffler Centre owners Vanessa and Colin Farrington are about to send off 160 bike mufflers to the United Kingdom, their first major export order since expanding their manufacturing capabilities this year; and in the past week they’ve received new orders from Switzerland, Ireland and Canada.
Vanessa Farrington said their niche was supporting the hundreds of thousands of bikes made in the 1970s and 80s that none of the bike builders made replacement parts for any more.
And the Farringtons’ nine-man operation in Palmerston North is turning its small size to its advantage.
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“People only want one, because [replacing them] is so rare, but overseas manufacturers will usually want an order of at least 40 to make it worth their while,” Vanessa Farrington said.
The Manawatu Muffler Centre moved into making mufflers in-house four years ago, and it has been the fastest-growing side of the business ever since.
So, they decided to buy New Plymouth manufacturer Musket Mufflers last year, and began moving the operation to their new Tremaine Ave site in October.
“It took us five weeks, with trips every day except for Christmas to move all the presses and equipment from New Plymouth to Palmerston North.”
With the expansion, the centre now has thousands of muffler patterns and jigs, mostly gathered from Australia and Japan, for both motorcycles and heavy-duty vehicles such as earthmovers and diggers.
That made the company unique for the country, she said.
“We’re the only ones making motorbike mufflers in New Zealand, [and] no-one else has all the patterns for the heavy-duty vehicles.
“Others can do one-offs, but they take longer because they have to figure things out themselves.”
That capability was why they supply the replacement heavy-vehicle mufflers for the contractors working on Transmission Gully, Wellington, she said.
“They’re going to be working non-stop, so we’re already making a bunch and just stacking them on our shelves – so they can just switch them out and keep working.”