We talked to Greg Staples, the designer and owner of Boatcatch, a revolutionary launch and retrieval system for trailer boats.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you came into the marine industry.
Getting into the marine industry happened in a round about way. I had been working as Superintendent at the VicRoads Engineering Workshops involved in the design, build and maintenance of some remarkable road equipment. Unexpectedly one day, I literally bumped into a guy who after an hour in the conversation asked me if I would be interested in becoming an abalone diver. Next thing I knew, I had swapped the inside of a giant factory for the wild outdoors of the Southern Ocean and Bass Strait. This eventually led me to Boatcatch.
Can you give us some background on Boatcatch including how and when it came into operation.
Boatcatch could be described as being created out of necessity for my use whilst abalone diving. Eighteen years into diving and having to launch and retrieve a large trailer boat approximately 150 times a year, I was becoming aware of the hazards and time wastage associated with the boat ramp. I knew there had to be a safer, more efficient method and so started to brainstorm a solution during the many hours alone under the ocean. With my background in mechanical engineering to draw upon, the underwater ideas were soon coming to life in my workshop.
The first Boatcatch was a working model produced out of steel offcuts shaped with builders’ clay. I created a 3D image which was used to cast a stainless steel version. Today, nine years and 1000 launches later, this original stainless steel Boatcatch is still on my abalone boat. The first Boatcatch was intended as a “one off” developed for my own use. Next thing I had other abalone divers asking for one and offering to pay good money. So I produced a few more. Then I started to think Boatcatch could be a way to transition out of abalone into a new business that was more suited to someone who was beginning to feel like he was not 25 anymore. After all, at that stage I had landed over 1,000 tonne of abalone and spent 15,000 hours on the sea floor.
Boatcatch officially launched as a business at the BIA Melbourne Boat Show in July 2009.
What is the best part about being in business in the marine industry for you?
Any day that I am not diving, you will find me talking about Boatcatch or boats or fishing to industry people and punters. The most rewarding part of being in this business is that I get to interact with these good people, the young, elderly, pros and novices. We all have common ground and therefore a mutual respect.
What have been some of the challenges you’ve encountered while in business in the marine industry? And on the flip side what have been some of your greatest achievements.
It was a challenge to take the problem of needing simplified trailer boat launch and retrievals, to then develop a solution and work through every stage culminating in a new, innovative and unique product. We also had to get through the new business minefield, but have now come out the other end having Boatcatch walking out the door at an ever-increasing rate, which is extremely rewarding.
What do you value most about your membership in BIAV?
Attending the BIAV Winter Boat Show is the one time of the year where the Boatcatch team has face-to-face interactions with industry members. It is a great opportunity to connect with other members who are not familiar with Boatcatch or only know the team via emails and phone calls during the year. Our position in the industry is always a notch higher after each show.
Where do you like to go boating or fishing or spend your leisure time?
At this stage I’m still actively diving for abalone, so if the weather is good enough to go fishing you will find me somewhere between Wilsons Prom and Warrnambool…. under the boat! Ask me again in a couple of years and I hope the answer will include me not getting wet.
Phone: 0400 222 824