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Challenges and lessons

Glidepath - section of BHS at Auckland Airport.

Glidepath has faced other challenges. The global financial crisis of 2008/2009 has hit all businesses hard. When asked if this has impacted Glidepath, Housley states that the increasing value of the New Zealand dollar – rising as high as 80% of the U.S. dollar has caused and still continues to cause Glidepath problems. Many of the projects in Asia are quoted in U.S. dollars and Glidepath, like many other New Zealand exporters, has had to factor this rise into their costs sometimes losing money on some contracts as a result.

There are also approximately a dozen competitors that offer comprehensive baggage handling solutions. The three biggest competitors, Siemens, Vandelande and Crisplant (European based) are much larger than Glidepath and often have a greater capacity to fulfill large tenders. Housley says that Glidepath does sometimes collaborate on projects, mostly with Siemens.

When asked about the effects of 9/11 and whether the subsequent downturn in air travel had impacted on Glidepath, Housely said reduced traffic numbers were countered by the introduction of the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA). The stepping up of security measures meant there were an increasing amount of infrastructure projects to keep tendering for. While the recent recession has also impacted on the amount of people travelling, traffic numbers were back on the increase.

Baggage handling at Auckland Airport NZ.

Another challenge is the time lag between jobs. It often takes periods of up to six or seven years for airports to consider upgrading. Glidepath does its best to remain in touch with airports that it has successfully worked at, particularly in places where it has a local presence. Glidepath also promotes its Operations and Maintenance division, Airport Services, as these contracts mean Glidepath’s staff are located at the airport – close to the airport’s decision makers. It makes sense for the airport to hire Glidepath on an ongoing basis as any upgrades will easily integrate into the existing equipment – and of course all Glidepath’s equipment is clearly branded.

Lessons learned

One of the main lessons learned, says Housley, is to make use of the consultants who are experts in a particular country. Use the expertise and resources of New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE), protect your intellectual property and be very aware of business etiquette, cultures and customs.

Read more about Glidepath's journey:

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