Auckland colour company proves international hit

Filed under: Niche Manufacturing, Invest In Auckland, Doing Business, General News D’Arcy Polychrome, the company of an Auckland Entrepreneur, has proved popular with international investors. The company produces dry colour pigments for industry-standard paint.

Published: 13 August 2012
Filed under: Invest

Rachel Lacy is passionate about paint.

She caught the bug from her mother, Prue Cook, who formed Aalto Colour more than 20 years ago when she couldn't find the right colour for her house.

With her mother's help, she has set up D'Arcy Polychrome which produces dry colour pigments that are easy to formulate and mix in to conventional industry-standard water paint.

The concept has proven an early hit with international designers, architects and paint companies, who see the opportunity to package their own exclusive colour ranges in an easy way.

The company's first capital raising closed over-subscribed this month at $700,000, more than $100,000 over target.

D'Arcy is using the investment to develop its own dedicated laboratory in Parnell, Auckland and sample colours have been produced.

The company is already in the process of producing the colour palette developed by the famous Swiss architect and designer Le Corbusier, for the European company that owns the rights.

Investors include science and technology investment firm Pacific Channel, and the Government's New Zealand Investment Fund.

Lacy, who set up the company with the help of her mother, said the concept was a solution to a problem they had experienced after 15 years in the industry - frustration with the colourants and technology that was available and the distribution network.

With D'Arcy it can make good quality colours readily available across a massive distribution network without having to put in new colour wheels and large stocks of colourants, she said. It wants the company to have a strong long-term intellectual property and commercial pathway.

The company has appointed two new directors including former founding executive of Sky Network Television, Paul Smart, and chairman of the New Zealand Marketing Association, Debra Hall.

Why did you become an entrepreneur?

I am a fan of Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter and his definition fits most closely with my view of an entrepreneur. "Entrepreneurs are innovators who use a process of shattering the status quo of the existing products and services, to set up new products, new services."

What have been the biggest obstacles in running your company?

I think the most difficult businesses to run are those under burdensome financial stress; it leads to bad decisions. When we started D'Arcy we made sure that we were going to have enough money to do what we set out to do.

Name one thing you've learnt while in business and from who?

That there is always a way to get it done. My mother started a paint company in New Zealand 20 years ago; she made selling paint about colour and did so very successfully. She was the only women amongst a bunch of industry boys; setting up seven shops across NZ and Australia.

What are your business and personal goals?

My business goal is to build a successful company for our shareholders. My personal goal is to enjoy doing it.

Do you have any tips for budding entrepreneurs?

Warren Buffet said: "I don't try to jump over seven-foot bars: I look around for one foot bars that I can step over." Which is much easier to do if you have Buffet's brain but for the rest of us an idea, concept, service doesn't need to be overly complicated to be good; it just needs to be well executed.