Photo essay: Behind the scenes at one of New Zealand’s top vaping factories (STUFF)
QJ Satchell puts on a laboratory coat and enters the “cool room,” strolling towards a large machine in the corner that looks like something out of a space film.
It’s a white, sterile environment that feels like a hospital. But QJ isn’t a scientist or a doctor. He’s the owner of a vape company, an occupation vastly different to what he was doing when he went into business with older brother Kayne six years ago.
Back then he was selling tyres while Kayne fixed superyachts in the USA. But a parcel that arrived in the mail changed his career trajectory altogether. “Vaping was taking off over there [in the USA], so Kayne sent one to me with a little note saying ‘just give it a try’,” Satchell says.
“It took me a couple of weeks, but I gave it a go and pretty much immediately stopped smoking.”
What followed was the sale of the family home to set up NZVapor, a company which now employs ten staff in Silverdale, half an hour north of Auckland.
The company creates e-Liquid for vapes and e-cigarettes, with a selection of over 40 flavours made up of four ingredients – propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, nicotine, and flavouring.
“We don’t have a kombucha flavour yet, but I guess you’d just make it taste like dirt,” Satchell jokes.
What they do have is a growing business, feeding off a New Zealand vaping population which is now estimated to be 200,000 strong.
“We can make a bottle every three to five seconds, depending on the size,” Satchell says. “All going well, the machine should be able to produce up to 18,000 canisters a day.”
Demand hasn’t reached that point yet, and Satchell doesn’t want to say how many canisters they sell each year. But he’s open about the fact that the industry is “booming”.
They supply to over 200 wholesale clients, and Satchell says he doesn’t get much sleep these days.
“Our passion lies with the conversion of smokers, and we’re contacted daily by people who have made the switch,” he says. “They’re proud of themselves because it’s the hardest thing to do for a lot of people.”
And the most popular flavours? Premium Red and Royal Vape, which taste like Dunhill and Port Royal respectively, and are particularly appealing to those trying to give up the cigarettes.
By Matthew Rosenberg
Published 05:00, Jan 20 2019