A new piece of machinery has firmly positioned Shot Darts as a leader in the international darts industry.
The titanium plating plant is behind the vibrant colour coatings on the company’s darts as well as delivering a durable coating that doesn’t chip and helps keep a dart’s edges and grip intact. It supports the quality and flair the company is well-known for in international darts circles.
Managing Director Peter McCormick says the purchase speaks to the company’s obsession with darts, which goes back almost 50 years to when his father, John McCormick, took over the business.
“To the best of my knowledge, we’re the only precision darts manufacturer in the world to manage the entire manufacturing process in-house. From initial concepts, to packing our beautifully finished tungsten darts by hand ready for shipment, we get it all done here at our factory in New Zealand.
“It gives us complete control, from woah to go. Not just over quality, but also lead times and consistency of supply.
Mr McCormick says customer expectations for lead times are getting shorter and shorter, and he expects bringing the entire process in-house to shorten turnaround by at least two weeks.
“It enables us to be more flexible, to respond quicker to customer needs.”
The company has backed up its investment by hiring a machine operator with a Master’s Degree in Chemistry, a role Mr McCormick says is expected to have a strong research and development focus.
“We want to see what the machine is really capable of. We’re excited about continuing to push the envelope. And getting our ideas out there, into the hands of players, faster.”
Head of Engineering Robbie Donaldson who just marked his 30th year with Shot Darts, says previously they were more constrained by what contracted plating companies were willing, and able, to try.
“This gives us control of our destiny and development. We have the ability to really explore the possibilities for our colours and coatings.
“Darts is a hands-on, collision sport. Our darts need to look good and hold their shape, but there is an art to giving the dart enough protection without taking away the ability to feel the grip.”
Outside his work for Shot Darts, Mr Donaldson builds custom firearms for New Zealand and international competitors and says there are some similarities between the two sports.
“In both darts and shooting, you’ve got really passionate people looking for something new to add to their enjoyment or give them an edge. There is a real appetite for innovation.
“You get to the top of the game and they only person you’re really trying to beat is yourself.”
Much the same could be said for Shot Darts and its refusal to rest on its laurels. The new plating machine is a key step forward in the company’s dedication to doing things in a more sustainable and environmentally friendly way, something Mr McCormick says is becoming increasingly important in some of their key markets.
“Germany is a big market for us and there is a growing demand there, from young people in particular, for products and businesses that demonstrate a commitment to sustainability.”
With the darts previously travelling as far as China at times for plating, the emissions generated by flying them there and back is something the company is happy to see an end to as part of their commitment to doing things more sustainably.
“We’re also looking forward to reducing our carbon footprint through the use of cleaner energy sources in the plating process (renewable energy sources make up more than 80% of New Zealand’s electricity generation vs. less than 40% in China).”
Mr McCormick says the purchase also speaks to the company’s commitment to the darts industry as it approaches its 50th year in 2020.
“Darts gets into your blood. We’re here for the long haul.”