2019 Fast 50 winner: Smart Membrane Solutions

Taking the top spot on this year’s Deloitte Fast 50 index was Smart Membrane Solutions, filtration technology specialists in the dairy industry. They’ve experienced stunning business success, stepping ahead of the competition with an amazing 1295.05% growth over the last three years. We spoke to co-founders Brent and Lyndal Marshall to hear their thoughts on the fantastic result, their experience of the programme and the crucial factors that have driven their growth.

Congratulations on your win! How does it feel to place first on the Fast 50 index?

Brent: It feels quite affirming and humbling, and shows that we've arrived at our core purpose.

Lyndal: Yes, it's good to get that recognition for all the work that the team has done, and getting placed first adds something special to that.

Did the number one placing take you by surprise?

Lyndal: Looking at the past results, we thought we’d probably placed relatively well as we knew our own growth percentage. That said, we didn't have any expectation of winning!

What prompted you to enter the Deloitte Fast 50 programme?

Lyndal: Last year we won a small enterprise award at the Westpac Champion Business Awards for service delivery and after seeing the credibility that it gave to our business, we thought we'd enter the Fast 50 to show our growth trajectory. Being a part of the programme has also given credibility to the work that the team has done to deliver some excellent results in serving our customers. 

How did you find the Festival of Growth day?

Brent: The Festival of Growth day was excellent - we met a lot of Canterbury and New Zealand businesses from a large range of sectors, all experiencing high growth, and it was interesting to see that we’re going through similar challenges.

Can you tell us a little about what has fuelled Smart Membrane Solutions’ business growth?  

Brent: We’ve been going for 15 years, so if we break it down into five year periods, the first five saw us developing our own range of New Zealand-made products and accessories. We spent another five years after that developing professional services - engineering consulting services, benchmarking, auditing, and other services for customers to solve their problems. Then, by the time we reached ten years, we’d established credibility and trust with our customers, who in turn invited us to do major capital projects. Those projects were what has caused us to have a rapid growth period in the last three years.

It’s been quite a long journey but it's one of stick-ability - stick with your passion, understand the needs and provide the solutions. 

How has your team developed to handle that business growth?

Brent: It's changed a lot actually. Before the three years of rapid growth, we really only had two of us and a lot of subcontractors and now we've got six full time team members. We've also been able to attract very experienced and capable people, who have enabled us to step up in those major capital projects. That was a really big focus for us, because building that team and attracting talent required a really good purpose, strategy, and systems as well.

What is Smart Membrane Solutions’ plan for the year ahead?

Brent: We’ve begun expanding offshore - Australia and North America are where we're targeting and active at the moment. We intend to work the Australian market similar to the way we've worked New Zealand, using the same systems and models. North America will be a little different - we think the best way to grow there is to partner with others and we've already been approached by a big entity, so that's really exciting. 

Lyndal and Brent Marshall took time out at the Deloitte Fast 50 Festival of Growth to discuss their fantastic win on the index...

25 November, 2019 by Jen Scouler, Q & A

Jen Scouler

Jen Scouler

Jen Scouler works in the Deloitte clients & marketing team across digital content and social media. She also works closely with Deloitte Private.

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