Tucked away in a gigantic workshop on his rural New Plymouth property, Joe Goodin finds himself designing his path to offshore success.
In his garden, Goodin, Managing Director of Vortex International, created the most powerful dredge in the world.
The tool – essentially an underwater vacuum cleaner – is so effective that the 48-year-old has patented the design and is exporting it abroad, including to Brazil where 11 will head on Monday as part of a agreement valued at approximately $ 800,000.
This is in addition to the agreements worth $ 500,000 signed in recent months.
“It must be busy in Brazil,” said Goodin, who explained that the vortex motion of his machine makes it more efficient than any other of its kind.
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“We stumbled upon it through trial and error,” he said.
“It’s kind of like if you take the cap off your drain and there is this spinning motion that creates a huge vacuum, and you flip a bottle over and shake it, that spinning action will speed up the water and heat. This is the fastest way to empty a two-liter bottle of Coke.
But like most success stories, Goodin’s journey has been long and bumpy.
About 25 years ago he was working on oil rigs around the world as an ROV (Remote Operated Vehicle) operator.
It was around this time that he discovered that the tools used were just not so “flash”.
“I thought, ‘There must be a better way to do this.’
“When you’re out there, and there might be a half-a-million-dollar-a-day oil rig that’s broken down and it’s waiting for you, you tend to get a little heated up. “
Growing up on a farm, Goodin instilled in him the “power to do attitude” and so he took it upon himself to develop better tools.
Dating was where it all started.
He developed one, took it offshore, borrowed an ROV, and spun it around.
But it didn’t work. “It was a bunch of crap.”
Goodin didn’t give up. He learned from it and built another. He took that one off and it worked “really, really good”.
He got a patent on it and started his business.
But then Goodin got involved with a “corrupt operator” who “got us to sign a questionable contract” that cost him $ 150,000 to buy.
He then got wind of an offshore operator who had copied the design of the dredge.
“We took them to task with lawyers all the way to Paris and won.”
Goodin then traveled to Aberdeen and met Ashtead Technology, considered to be the world’s largest offshore rental company with the best performing equipment.
“They took us over and we grew from there. We’ve been supplying them exclusively since 2009, and the business has just grown into all kinds of different things.
“Nothing is easy, but we just didn’t give up. “
Although it started with dredges, he also designed winches, surveying tools and cutting equipment which are also exported around the world.
The prototypes are still built in Goodin’s workshop, but the company has grown to such an extent that it is now outsourcing production.
“We have extended it to different businesses around Taranaki. They could each do a different piece of the puzzle.
“The most important thing that we have found through it all is the amount of expertise from the engineering and machine shops here. It is absolutely world class.
Goodin’s family have also joined the business and his 13-year-old son Lenny uses the machinery and has a better understanding of how the equipment works.
“Dad is a very good teacher. He walks me through everything, ”said Lenny, who is interested in offshore surveying.