While visiting Stabicraft, we couldn’t decline the opportunity for a quick chat with owner, MD and founder, Paul Adams (pictured above). A recipient of New Zealand’s Order of Merit for his achievements in business, Adams is an animated and dynamic personality, who is obviously proud of the success of his company. He is also quick to credit his staff for much of that success.
In a thick, southern Kiwi accent laced with anchor-heavy vowels, Adams explained that the reputation and ruggedness of Stabicraft boats over the last 23 years were originally born from necessity. Geography also played a part.
“Our local paua divers were having problems with the rigid inflatable boats (RIBs) at the time – they were getting damaged and the rubber pontoons just weren’t up to the job,” he said. “The fact that we’re right in the middle of (latitude) 47 South, the Roaring Forties, didn’t help things.” Adams admitted that his earlier designs were an imitation of the existing RIBS, with the intent of using aluminium instead of rubber for the pontoons to lessen the risk of puncture or hull damage.
“Their boats simply weren’t cutting the mustard, so the idea of the aluminium tubes came up,” he explained. “The original aluminium tubes were round, and they had cones on the end, only because we thought we needed to emulate the rubber boats.
“That was our absolute target in the early days – to emulate the existing boats. But as we went on, it became obvious that the inherent properties of these little boats were fantastic and we thought: ‘How can we transform that and improve it?’.
“But when we understood that we didn’t have to fit the mould of the rubber boats completely – that we could actually change the shape of the tubes – we went from a round tube to what we called a D-shaped tube. We just flattened off the internal side of the tubes and at the time it gave us around 150mm of extra interior room. In a little boat, that made a big difference and was one of the significant things that contributed to our evolution.”
Adams says the success of the company is down to a simple philosophy.
“The four product pillars we have are safety, stability, rough water capability and quality. Those are the four key things that a Stabicraft must have – full stop. We keep that in front of mind when we’re designing anything new and so long as we stay true to those pillars, then I believe we’re on the right track.”
Adams explained that to make the transition from a small, niche company catering to a relatively limited commercial market, he had to begin listening to buyers, and, in particular, their wives.
“Listening to customers’ wants and needs has helped us transform our boats and the business into what it is today.
“We went through the mainstream buyers coming along and saying, ‘Yeah that’s what I want; it’s tough and it’s rugged, it’s safe and it’s stable and the quality is good’. But those same guys were bringing along their wives and girlfriends and they were saying, ‘Oh, it’s cold, it’s aluminium and it doesn’t have all the nice things that the other boats have’.
“So at that stage we had to become good listeners and we had to say that, in order for our business to grow, we had to add some other features. We added some internal cabin lining for some warmth, good upholstered seating – the commercial guys didn’t need upholstered seats – and paint and graphics for some colour.
“In doing those things, we really transformed Stabicraft into what it is today.”
So, apart from the unconventional hull profile and design, what sets Stabicraft apart from the rest of the recreational trailerboat fleet?
“For a start, you think about stability. A lot of people go out fishing or boating all day and they come home and they might have had a lot of pitch and toss,” he said. “So during the day you imagine the amount of muscles that will be reacting to all that movement in the boat. But if you’ve got a much more stable platform, your fatigue levels are going to be much, much less. I think we all agree that when we go out to sea, we usually come back and sleep well that night. That’s the key and that is really one of our key features – our stability.
“The stability is all about hull shape and has nothing to do with the buoyancy – the buoyancy is really an added bonus. The stability is the chine design and chine beam. Our boats have a very wide chine beam in comparison to most conventional boats.
“Also, I think our boats are very, very dry. We’ve got good turn-down and good chines, and they are very important. Users of our boats tend to go out in conditions that owners of other boats might not and they want a boat that is going to be dry.”
Adams is clearly proud of the quality of the boats coming out of his factory.
“Everyone here is proud of what they achieve. For instance, we’ve got a number of guys out there who can weld and who are trained to a very high level, and that’s evident in the fact that none of our welds are ground or sanded off. Everyone has a lot of pride and passion in what they do here.”