In 2011, Richard Latta traded a career in banking for a business that manufactures plastic tubing, hoses, pipes and custom-made products such as coffin handles, hula hoops, bumper bars for weigh stations and closures for A4 filing folders. Founded in Upper Hutt in 1968, Leda has evolved to become a specialist in plastic extrusion with an international reputation for its high quality products. Many of its products are shipped around New Zealand while others are exported to Australia, North and South America, India, Asia and the Middle East.
Richard recalls, “Buying Leda came about after a conversation with a friend who knew of its success. The business wasn’t even for sale so it was a bit of a long shot but I made a cold call, did my homework and made the owners an offer. Before long, I owned a business instead of a job. It was brilliant.”
Eight separate production lines at Leda’s Upper Hutt production facility allow it to produce a range of products simultaneously.
Richard explains, “We can be very flexible. One machine may be making tubing for a telecommunications company at the same time as another making hose for transferring beer from a keg to a tap.”
Business is booming at Leda. “We make hundreds of thousands of metres of tubing every year and our customers are very happy with us,” Richard says.
Manufacturers that depend on pneumatics account for a large part of Leda’s business. Food and beverage manufacturers (amongst others needing to transfer fluids such as chemicals or acids from A to B) are major customers too, as are infrastructural companies (telecommunications and power companies) which rely on its plastic tubing and custom-made components.
Leda offers a wide range of standard products available in a multitude of sizes and colours. However many of its customers require custom-shaped profiles. “If someone needs a shape that can be extruded (made in a continuous line rather than in a mould) we can make it” Richard says.
Leda also has the capacity to supply its standard products in a way that meets a customer’s specification. For example, a product may need coiling or cutting to a certain length, packaged in a certain way or printed with unique information.
Richard says that directing Leda has been a fantastic opportunity for his managerial, financial and marketing backgrounds to come together in one place. “My generalist skills complement my staff’s technical skills. Some of our team have been with Leda for over 25 years – they are like gold nuggets in a business like mine.”
“The Upper Hutt City Council has supported us from the start,” Richard says. “I live in Wellington but it’s only a half hour commute against the traffic to work. Local suppliers are easily accessible when we need them and our overheads are cheaper than they would be in other parts of the region. We are fortunate that Upper Hutt has a good supply of staff – they have the skills we need and are very keen to live and work locally.”
Visit the LEDA website: www.leda.co.nz