The achievements of the young CEO of New Zealand’s Rayglass Boats, Dave Larsen, have been acknowledged with his naming in the University of Auckland’s inaugural 40 Under 40 list.
The list recognises graduates who are making a significant contribution to their field and community, according to the University’s Director of Alumni Relations and Development, Mark Bentley.
“Recognition of achievement often comes later in life but we wanted to celebrate the game changers and high achievers now and draw inspiration from their accomplishments.”
Dave Larsen joined Rayglass, manufacturer of both New Zealand’s leading luxury trailer boat brand and the internationally respected Protector range of RIBs, almost 20 years ago and admits he initially had to pester founder Tony Hembrow to get on board.
“I always wanted to work at Rayglass but, when I met with Tony, he wasn’t able to offer me a job.
“I kept sending him emails but didn’t receive a reply. In the end I just turned up one day with my toolbox and said I’d work for free until they felt I was worthy of being paid.
“It only took a week for that to happen.”
Dave has been with Rayglass all his working life, starting as a young apprentice, then becoming Sales Director and, in 2013 at just 35, being appointed CEO.
While working at Rayglass, Dave completed a Post Graduate Diploma in Business Administration at the University of Auckland.
“While I understood the mechanical and manufacturing aspects of boats very well, the business element was the missing piece for me.”
In 2009, in recognition of his achievements managing a business that had dealt with twin setbacks: a major factory fire in 2008 and a severe downturn in business after the GFC, Dave was named the NZ Institute of Management’s Young Executive of the Year.
While a trade isn’t necessarily the traditional path to management, Dave believes his career path and achievements are proof that it’s still possible to start on the bottom rung and work one’s way up to the top of the ladder.
“I’m a great believer in upskilling and gaining the education and knowledge to succeed. At each stage of my career I’ve had to take on new lessons.
“Transitioning from Sales Director to Chief Executive required a fundamentally different skill set and the University of Auckland was able to provide that. In fact, I still refer to my notes from the course.”
Based on the water’s edge in Auckland, New Zealand, Rayglass today employs over 60 people in three state of the art manufacturing facilities and is one of New Zealand’s most successful marine businesses, both at home and internationally.
In addition to their multi award winning Legend series of GRP powerboats, the company also manufactures the internationally renowned Protector range of patrol, work and pleasure RIBs and the highly innovative Pro Jet (the world’s first commercially manufactured PWC powered RIB).
In acknowledging the contributions of Dave Larsen and his fellow alumni, Mark Bentley says their achievements are inspiring:
“It seems the mantle of leadership is being passed to a new generation.”