What happened in 2008 (for Lance)

(Apologies for the “all about me” post. This sort of thing helps to motivate me for the year.)

Early last year I posted a plan for 2008 – daring to call it a manifesto. I’d just  turned down some very good corporate career options and dared to invest more time into smaller opportunities.

How did I do? Frankly I hadn’t looked at the post since January, and with some trepidation let’s launch into it. (Don’t worry – there is no personal stuff)

First – There were no New Year predictions. Good one. What a year to destroy predictions.

Next – there was the plan to go crazy – completing the Norwegian Berkiebeiner ski marathon. Sadly I just could not make this work logistically, and I feel pretty bad about it. My friend Hans, who I now owe some substantial karma, managed, after some adventure, to complete the Birkie on a perfect day. Great stuff. 

The professional goal was to spend more time starting and nurturing businesses, while continuing to consult, in both NZ and Australia.


In January 2008 my time at Kwinana Nickel Refinery, 30 minutes South of Fremantle, was due to end in February.

It didn’t – but continued, part time, until the end of June, and there was also a brief spell later in the year.

The site, people and results were outstanding – until the smelter supplying the raw materials went down in early June. Sadly this meant that we could not establish a fiscal year record, a record that was going to be smashed. Still – the site is back up after an extended maintenance period and there are now some quarterly records to crush.    

KNR’s parent – BHP Billiton’s Stainless Steel Materials CSG, filled up the rest of the first half-year consulting time, with a great project on how to accelerate the improvement of their other established mines, smelters and refineries. This was a lot of fun, as we formed a multi-level, multi-site, multi-cultural team, observed what worked well (practical, simple, sustainable), structured it, simplified it and rolled it out. We even managed to visit beautiful Columbia along the way. The assets got it straight away (it was about getting things done, not ticking boxes) and went for it. Time will tell on this one, and times have also changed given the recent low price of Nickel. 

There was also paid work from other clients during the year, both in New Zealand and in Western Australia. One of them (WA) is a company with great potential to build something special, but all that is on hold right now.

Unpaid work was in abundance, and it was really enjoyable to meet a bunch of new smart, fun and inspiring people, across Perth, Sydney, Auckland and, especially, Wellington. It was also fantastic to see and hear about some interesting companies and to throw 2 cent pieces where I could – hopefully some of them hit the mark.


Maintaining directorships for two companies through the year was fun, but even better was seeing them both perform well.

Lingopal released the first product and is on track to release two more very shortly. If you have read this far (Hi Mum) then go purchase an upgrade to Lingopal+ and unlock some pretty funny phrases in 44 languages.

Texmate NZ performed strongly in an adverse industrial economic climate, growing revenue this year again by about 50%. They have great products and if you want a simple way to monitor and control your industrial processes or machines then the Texmate range is the cheapest best solution.

New Businesses

It’s also really great to be involved with (and director of) two sparkling new Wellington-based start-ups, and to have also invested dollars in two more early stage ventures – one in Wellington and one in Sydney. The Wellington based start-ups are with a bunch of cool people, and we’ll have more on what the heck we are doing soon.


It wasn’t a goal, but somehow two motorcycle trips managed to appear in my calendar. The first was over New Years going through New South Wales to Broken Hill and back to Sydney, and the second from Perth to Alice Springs, up to Gibb River Road, Broome and back to Perth. They were both a blast, and there was a lot of red sand.

Stock market Investing

It was not a good year for the US “play” portfolio. Really not a good year, and no doubt there’ll be a post about it once the percentage carnage is official at the end of December.


Overall it was a “not bad” professional year – meeting and working with fun and smart people, and setting things up for an interesting 2009. More time in Wellington would have been really good, and moving more money from the streaky US market to small companies would also have been the right move. 


So I’m now invested in and actively involved with helping seven early stage companies, with 4 board memberships (2 of which are material companies) and bases in Perth and Wellington.

So what is in store for 2009?


Published by Lance Wiggs