Backyard design leads to international success with world-leading dredge
Hidden in a mammoth workshop on his rural New Plymouth estate, Joe Goodin finds his way to offshore success.
In his backyard, Goodin, General Manager of Vortex International, created the world’s most powerful excavator.
The tool – basically an underwater vacuum cleaner – is so effective that the 48-year-old patented the design and exported it overseas, including to Brazil, where 11 will make a deal worth around $ 800,000 on Monday.
That’s on top of the $ 500,000 deals signed in recent months.
“Must be busy in Brazil,” said Goodin, who explained that the vortex motion of his machine makes it more efficient than any other of its kind.
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“We came across this through trial and error,” he says.
“It’s like pulling the plug out of the drain and that twisting motion creates a huge vacuum and you tip a bottle upside down and shake it, that twisting motion makes the water go faster and that’s the fastest way to get a 2- Empty liter bottle of Cola. “
But, as with most success stories, Goodin’s journey has been long and bumpy.
Around 25 years ago he worked as a remote operated vehicle (ROV) operator on oil rigs around the world.
During this time he found that the tools used just weren’t that “flash”.
“I thought, ‘There must be a better way.’
“When you’re out there and a half a million dollars a day oil rig could be up and running and they’re waiting for you, you tend to get a little hot.”
LISA BURD / stuff
Goodin, pictured with 13-year-old son Lenny, exports the excavators worldwide and this week has 11 of them in Brazil.
Growing up on a farm, Goodin taught him the can-do attitude, so he’s made it his business to develop better tools.
It all started with the excavator.
He developed one, took it out to sea, borrowed an ROV, and tried it out.
But it did not work. “It was a bunch of crap.”
Goodin didn’t give up. He learned from it and built another. He took that with Offshore and it worked “really, really well”.
He got a patent on it and founded his company.
But then Goodin got involved with a “corrupt operator” who “got us to sign a shady contract” that cost him $ 150,000.
Then he got wind of an offshore operator who had copied the excavator design.
“We confronted her with lawyers as far as Paris and won.”
Goodin then went to Aberdeen and met with Ashtead Technology, which is considered the world’s largest offshore rental company with the highest performing equipment.
“They took us in and we grew from then on. We have been supplying them exclusively since 2009 and the business has just grown into a wide variety of things.
“Nothing is easy, but we just haven’t given up.”
While it started with excavators, he also developed winches, surveying tools, and cutters that are also exported worldwide.
The prototypes are still being built in Goodin’s workshop, but the business has grown enough that he is now expanding their production.
“We distributed it to various companies in Taranaki. Each of them could be a different piece of the puzzle.
“The greatest thing we have found in all of this is the know-how of the engineering and machine workshops here. It’s absolutely world class. “
Goodin’s family has also joined the company and his son Lenny, 13, uses the machines and learns how the machines work.
“Dad’s a pretty good teacher. He walks me through everything, ”said Lenny, who is interested in offshore surveys.