By David Porter – Bay of Plenty Times
Bay of Plenty-based Balex Marine has signed an exclusive distribution agreement for its Automatic Boat Loader (ABL2500) for the UK, Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) with Forge Group (UK).
“Forge Group is a new and innovative marine distribution company with excellent connections in our key target markets,” said Balex managing director Paul Symes. “They also have long experience of working with Kiwi start-up companies, which makes them an excellent fit for us.”
The agreement was signed with Forge Group co-founders Matt Forbes and James George in Tauranga last week. The hydraulically powered ABL lets users launch and retrieve their boats using a remote control.
Forge Group was founded in 2015 with a primary focus on the EMEA marine industry. The founders’ background includes distribution of global brands. Mr Forbes worked with Navman founder Sir Peter Maire for a decade and has experience establishing channels with Navman, Fusion and Garmin. Forge also distribute ProLan, a high-performance anti-corrosion product developed in the Bay of Plenty.
Forge will launch the ABL2500 at the Southampton Boat Show in September, followed by the Marine Equipment Trade Show in Amsterdam in November. The balance of 2016 will be focused on securing a CE Mark and establishing key partnerships with leading manufacturers. The target over the following three years will be to establish annual distribution of 1500 units per annum.
The Forge founders spent a day out in the Bay with Milan Radonich and the team from TV show Big Angry Fish, who have had an ABL2500 installed on their boat trailer for the past three months.
“The boat launch was impressive, but the retrieval was amazing,” said Mr Forbes, adding that he had the best day’s fishing of his life, including catching a giant kingfish.
“We had seen the ABL demonstrated, but this was a real-life demo with the product being used in the field. From being in the water, to parked in the car park, took 90 seconds. It was unbelievable.”
Forbes said Forge would initially focus on core markets the UK, Germany, France, and Scandinavia, where there were a lot of boats in the target size of 5 to 9 metres.