RedBull Powder Company Ltd

A company blasting its way to success

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    RedBull manufactures between 5,000 and 10,000 tonnes of explosives each year.
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    RedBull customer: Perry Aggregates' Waingaro Quarry in the Waikato.

When RedBull Powder Company was established in Auckland in 1997, there was limited competition in the New Zealand explosives market.  “At that time, we felt there was room for another company,” says RedBull managing director, Peter Shapiro.

Peter, a civil engineer, and his business partner who has a background in explosives and blasting works, went to work setting up the company that manufactures and supplies commercial explosives, and provides comprehensive drilling and blasting services to quarries, mines and construction projects.  Fifteen years on, business is booming, literally.

“We started with just five staff, and now have forty-five.  With the recent contract we were awarded for supply of explosives to three South Island goldmines, the business has doubled in size,” says Peter.

“Years ago, quarries would own their drill rigs and do their own blasting; nowadays those services are contracted out,” explains Peter.  “Our point of difference, and what makes our business model different, is that we offer a complete service – everything from the blast design, drilling the holes with large drill rigs, manufacturing the explosives and carrying out the actual blasting.”

RedBull now manufactures its own bulk and packaged emulsion explosives in its purpose-built production plant south of Auckland.  Peter believes manufacturing their own explosives not only ensures that quality is maintained, but continuity of supply to the industry is consistent as local manufacture eliminates the difficulty of importing explosives.

Unlike the all-inclusive service the company provides to quarries, RedBull’s contracts with goldmines are for the manufacture and supply of explosives.  “Goldmines are a much bigger consumer of explosive products than quarries.  They buy our explosives and then carry the work out themselves,” Peter explains.

“And in cases such as Macraes Open Pit mine in the South Island, we manufacture on site at a purpose-built facility.  This is for economic reasons – manufacturing at the mine location eliminates transport costs, and for the quantities required, that cost would be significant.”
RedBull manufactures between 5,000 and 10,000 tonnes of explosives a year, supplying the four largest gold mines in the country; the OceanaGold Corporation owned Macraes, Frasers underground and Reefton open pit mines in the South Island; and the Newmont Waihi Gold Mine in Coromandel.

Securing the large South Island contract for OceanaGold Corporation has seen RedBull double in size.  For Peter, the company’s expansion was the catalyst to engaging a new accountancy firm, one that had the knowledge and experience with companies that also had undergone rapid growth.

“It was time to step up to a ‘city’ firm that understood our business, and Markhams fitted the bill,” explains Peter.  “Markhams Auckland director, Atul Mehta has been wonderful.  He understands the business and more importantly, he understands small businesses undergoing rapid expansion.  We needed to be able to manage that phase and Markhams helped us do that.”

Markhams assists Peter and the team in a number of ways, including providing the company’s financial reports, assisting with forecasting and providing “much valued” business advice.

RedBull’s growth phase is certainly not over, with Peter hinting at other areas yet to explore.  “We have unfinished business here in New Zealand and we are also exploring exporting opportunities.  It’s an exciting industry to be in.”

Published Summer 2012.


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