Hoverboards take gold

PERTH powertool and technology company Arbortech is one the WA firms most likely to strike gold from its involvement in the Olympic Games.

Interest in Arbortech’s “hoverboards” used during the Olympic opening ceremony has resulted in the formation of a company, Airboard Pty Ltd, to facilitate ambitious plans to expand the manufacture of the boards.

Arbortech director Christine Inkster said inquiries about the boards had increased since the opening ceremony with a number of new orders for the $14,000 units.

There have been approaches from parties investigating using the boards for theme parks and in the military.

Despite the Games being held on the other side of the country, a number of WA companies derived a direct benefit from the event.

These range from WA construction giant Multiplex, which built the 110,000-seat Homebush Olympic Stadium, to East Perth firm Embroidery Plus, which embroided small towels on sub-contract from Canning Vale Weaving Mills, which won a contract to supply souvenir towels.

Other WA companies to win supply contracts included Solahart, Vigil Antislip, Pennant House and Wundowie Foundries.

Mrs Inkster said Arbortech supplied the Sydney Olympic Committee with 20 free Airboards in an effort to generate publicity and to “have a bit of fun”.

The company, which has just won an engineering award for its saw cutting technology, was experimenting with the fibre hoverboards about two years ago. About 18 months ago it revealed the invention to SOCOG.

There are plans for Airboard to produce a initial limited edition of 1,000 boards during the next six months.

Henderson-based Future and Communications manufactured the lighting towers for the Games’ main stadium, Guardian Protective Coatings International is removing graffiti from the Olympic buildings and Boyup Brook company Salmon River Pty Ltd is supplying feed for horses in the equestrian and nutritional advice to riders for their horses.

Solahart Industries, WA’s 56th largest exporter according to the newly released Business News 2000 Book of Lists, supplied and fitted about 900 units for the Olympic village and other Olympic venues.

Solahart general manager Rodger Meads said the contract was initially worth more than $2.2 million. He said the solaharts had to be able to cope with up to 20 Olympians in each house whereas the normal household only had to cope with about four people.

This is because the houses have been built with enclosed carports and no kitchen area to maximise sleeping space.

Each year more than 35,000 solahart units are manufactured from their Perth headquarters in Welshpool.

Pennant House supplied more than 1,000 large Olympic banners to be hung in auditoriums and stadiums. A company spokesperson said the contract was worth more than $100,000.

Embroidery Plus managing director Rick Jones said its contract “had certainly been very good” for the firm.

“It provided us with 12 months of work, increased turnover and taught us to not be scared of substantial orders,” he said.

The WA Tourism Commission hopes the Games will increase the number of tourists to WA.

WATC CEO Shane Crockett said the Olympics were expected to provide benefits for WA tourism for many years.

The commission has distributed more than 50,000 flyers promoting Perth as the Australia’s western gateway internationally.

The commission is represented at the Sydney Media Centre, providing access to 10,000 non-accredited journalists from around the world.

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