Paul Adams started his business in the late 1980s and has seen it grow into one of New Zealand’s most important marine businesses. In 2019, it employs over 100 people, occupies some 5000 square metres, has built over 13,000 boats, is represented by over 25 dealers in five different countries — and does all this from NZ’s most remote city…
After working as an apprentice coach builder for a Bluff-based engineering company, Paul almost didn’t get into boatbuilding at all. Asked by a couple of commercial fishermen to produce an aluminium pontoon boat, he and his mate declined, thinking it was a crank idea and wondering “why would you want to do that?”
When the boat ended up being built by someone else and was “not a success”, the fishermen again approached the pair and this time they agreed.
Before long, they had quit their jobs, moved to a “backstreet workshop” in Invercargill and were building boats full time.
In 1987, they built their first rigid-hulled aluminium chambered boat, a Stabicraft 3.5 called Ally Duck.
Later that year the company moved to bigger, leased, premises on the Bluff Highway and quickly grew. Within a year, they already had their first dealer, Powerboat Centre in Christchurch, and had completed their first export order: two dinghies and three runabouts to the Canadian state of British Columbia.
Within three years Stabicraft had bought its Bluff Highway premises and the company, much expanded, is still there.
In 1992, Stabicraft licensed a UK company to build and market their designs and by 1994, after just seven years in business, they were already exporting to both Australia and the United States.
In 1996, the company made the move into recreational family and fishing boating and, a year later, produced the new, more streamlined, Generation 2 models.
The company has long been an exhibitor at the New Zealand Boat Show and, in 1998, won its first Boat of the Show Award, Fishing Boat of the Show, for their Stabicraft 630HT. They have since won a number of Boat of the Show Awards and generously supplied several of the show’s Grand Prize boats.
In 2007, Paul was made a member of the prestigious New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to business.
Under his “Design-Led” approach, Stabicraft has won a number of National and International awards, including a coveted International Red Dot Design Award in 2016.
Paul was instrumental in prototyping the use of virtual reality as way of showcasing the Stabicraft experience to those in faraway markets.
Always generous with his time, Paul has helped mentor many up and coming Southland businesses and has been a passionate supporter of the SoRDS (Southland Regional Development Strategy) from its inception. As the leader of the SoRDS Innovation Action Team he is extensively using his Design Thinking to benefit his region and its business community.
Paul Adams continues to be a significant and incredibly well-respected contributor to the New Zealand marine industry and the wider New Zealand economy.