C-Tech- Design without Limits, Celebrating 20 years in business

C-Tech, now a favoured supplier to the world’s sailing elite, began life as a small back yard operation in West Auckland. Founder Alex Vallings drew on his engineering background, expertise in composite materials and years in sailing to establish C-Tech in 1997. Today C-Tech is a premium marine composites manufacturer with a passion for sailing, a proud yachting history and extensive experience across a broad range of applications.

In 1998 C-Tech started exporting carbon products to the high-performance sailing dinghy markets.  These included a wide range of carbon masts, carbon fibre tubing and, from 2010, carbon fibre sail battens that are now supplied to customers world-wide.  Today, exports make up 75% of C-Tech’s overall sales.

Alex Vallings, an accomplished skiff sailor, has built C-Tech’s reputation as a company that manufactures superior, high-quality marine products and incorporates leading-edge technology and design to provide maximum performance benefit.  C-Tech’s marine clients have included super yacht, Volvo ocean race, Grand Prix and Americas Cup race teams. From this race-proven background C-Tech staff have migrated their knowledge of composites to engineer products for a diverse range of applications including a current high profile aerospace project.

Lyn Holland, Director, formed her own software development company in 1997 and as a natural progression Lyn merged her own business with that of C-Tech in early 2000.  Lyn’s experience and insight has been invaluable in ensuring effective communication and understanding between staff and clients. A keen sailor also, Lyn has competed nationally in the Zephyr and 3.7 classes. Currently she is the only female to have won the Leander Trophy (R-Class), acting as crew for Alex.

Team C-Tech has a positive, close-knit crew of 37 staff; with the growth of the business C-Tech moved to Rosebank in 2010, into its 2000 square metre purpose built factory.  The team on the shop floor have diverse backgrounds, from school-leavers and apprentices to high profile boatbuilding backgrounds with years of experience working in the industry.

Key success factors are their teams’ passion for sailing, round the world racing experience, practical engineering skills and an innovative mindset.  As new processes and materials become available (e.g. robotics, advanced composite materials, Nano additives) they are introduced into C-Tech products.  Manufacturing processes are enhanced by custom-built machinery, making small product runs and one-off items more cost-effective.  The ability to design and build machinery in-house enables C-Tech to migrate their experience and expertise to new markets.

C-Tech has a lot to celebrate after 20 years in the business. Their composite technicians have produced over 50,000 custom designed carbon spars, all to a high specification.  C-Tech is also proud to have been involved with Emirates Team New Zealand for yet another cup campaign.

It has been 15 years since C-Tech and Emirates Team New Zealand first worked together, with C-Tech supplying sail battens during the 2003 America’s Cup campaign. Despite radical changes in the boats themselves, C-Tech continues to supply top-end carbon components to the high-tech foiling race yachts. C-Tech has now supplied the team with wing components, rudders, dagger board cases, fairings, lifting posts, tiller extensions, accumulator tubes, struts, prods and ‘bike components’ for their 2017 challenge.

C-Techs’ managing director Alex Vallings has been working with the Team since day one.  “Over the last 5 campaigns we have seen a massive change in technology – foiling has turned sailing on its head.  There has been a huge amount of learning needed from the teams, which has given us a fantastic opportunity to learn with them, and keep abreast of the latest developments and manufacturing techniques, says  Alex.

Emirates Team New Zealand Shore Manager Sean Regan commented, “C-Tech have taken on a key role building specialised componentry as part of the build group for our current AC class yacht. The team at C-Tech ensures the constant last minute changes to design and construction are communicated, planned and implemented efficiently to ensure the parts are completed on time and quality controls remain at the highest standard.”

So where to next?

Latest developments at C-Tech include a growth in staff numbers along with a significant increase in expertise and diversity in skills, two large pieces of equipment being added to their plant (a plotter and a new laminating and wrapping machine) and adding a world-class clean room.  Expansion of infrastructure and staff has enabled C-Tech to take on bigger projects, in turn providing development opportunities for staff. As the team enters the next chapter of business growth, one thing is for sure, change is the only certainty, as the composites industry is constantly advancing with improvements in technology. C-Tech is set for the challenge.