Value of Design Award

Stabicraft Marine 4 34 Years of Iterative Development.

  • Ringatoi Matua / Design Directors
    Paul Adams, Daniel Upperton
  • Ngā Kaimahi / Team Members
    Daniel Upperton, Mike Whittaker, Scott Thompson, Craig Johnstone, Lori Comer, Agata Kaluzna, Sam Milne, Doug Jukes, Michael Stenton
Judge's comments:

Stabicraft is a story of focus and determination. The business started 34 years ago focused on creating a durable replacement to inflatable RIBs. But since going through the Better by Design programme since 2015 the business has stepped it up a gear. It’s introduced new products, significantly increased sales with the introduction of new and redesigned models. It simplified its manufacturing process and won Red Dot Awards. And from a value point of view it’s doubled the business and increased margins too. A strong demonstration of what great design can deliver.

A 34 year story of focus and determination. The business has been transformed by the Better by design programme with a strong customer focused design programme. Success has been reflected in successful new products and a doubling of sales for its specialist boats.


The quest for Stabicraft has always been to challenge the status quo.
When Paul Adams built the first Stabicraft out of his fabrication shop in Bluff in the late 1980's it was in response to a need for a highly stable and very durable alternative to an inflatable RIB. RIB's were used in the commercial paua and crayfish diving industry but kept puncturing and were in constant need of repair costing divers valuable time on the water.
The first Stabicraft replaced the soft inflatable tubes of an RIB with rigid tubes made from rolled sheet aluminium and the resulting hull was stiff, safe and lightweight. The divers' needs were met and Paul's new designs were taken up with vigor by the commercial diving industry. What started as a simple but effective solution to solve a relatively niche problem has developed into an entire boating genre which now stretches across the globe. The Stabicraft boats of then and the Stabicraft boats of now are worlds apart but the same intensive approach to innovation and problem solving still applies.
Since Stabicraft's inception, the company has continued to challenge the status-quo and each model in the 34-year evolutionary chain of models has been an iterative improvement on it's predecessor. The development process has been both organic and orchestrated with each model designed to meet specific end-user needs and to introduce new ways of enjoying time on the water. Stabicraft's approach to problem-solving involves a simple but effective design process:
1. Identify the problem and subsequent business case
2. Thorough research and analysis of our end-users, dealership feedback and competitors
3. Conceptual design
4. Multiple prototypes to solve ergonomic, form and functional aspects
5. Multi-market compliance analysis and performance testing
6. Validation through in-market testing
Stabicraft has always promoted design & innovation within every facet of the company quite literally from the top down and it's importance within the organisation remains a core reason why Stabicraft has remained at the top of it's industry as New Zealand's largest boat manufacturer.
Stabicraft's expansion into the Pacific North West of the United States has not been without it's unique challenges. We have had to persevere for acceptance with our uniquely different product line-up in a conservative & conventional foreign market. As we have adapted and improved, that market has in turn accepted us as the "Different Good" alternative. We have become a revered brand and sales are exponentially increasing in response to our introduction of models that respond to the unique problems and conditions of the local environment. Our recent accolades received for the 2250 Ultracab WT have been excellent affirmation for the hard work & perseverance that has gone into making a market-targeted product from the other side of the world within closed borders!
What Stabicraft has achieved on the world stage from their quiet corner of the world is a remarkable success story of New Zealand design and innovation, and an excellent example of what consistently fostering design thinking within an organisation can achieve.