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Link hits the gas with tech award nomination

Gerrit Gray Doppenberg
General manager of Link John Hughes
General manager of Link John Hughes   Gerrit Doppenberg

A local Christchurch company which develops engine control units, has been nominated for the Hi-Tech company of the year awards. 

Link Engine Management has been going strong for 20 years, but has skyrocketed in the last five to become a worldwide name in engine control unit engineering.  

Engine control units are a type of computer installed into vehicles to, as the name suggests, control the engine.  

This could be to make certain injectors fire at certain times, or make cylinders inject fuel sequentially. 

Cars come off the factory floor with a default setting, which could be for a car sent to Mexico city, or to Christchurch. 

Link takes those control units and replaces them with a custom one.  

The customisations could be for performance, fuel economy, or to get the car to run stronger at higher altitudes – if the car was used for a hill race.  

There are around 20,000 variables for an engine control unit – a lot of information to work with.  

A car with 350 horsepower can be turned into one with 1000 horsepower – an every day rider into a racer using engine control units.  

 

 

One of Link's sponsored cars.
One of Link's sponsored cars. Gerrit Doppenberg

Link has quickly made a name for itself in the area – sponsoring race cars and events in growing motorsports like drifting 

General manager John Hughes says there’s been several factors in their success – like reliability and the quality of their product. 

He explained why customers come back to them over other larger brands. 

We find that once we introduce ourselves, compared to some of our competitors, our tuning software is much faster, they can tune a car in half the time as some of our competitors products, it’s better value for money and it’s more reliable.”  

Hughes also said they had a low rate of electronics failures, leading to high customer satisfaction.  

Link recently upgraded its building, moving into a far larger, open workspace.  

The move had changed the way all the parts of the team work together and made a more cohesive work environment, he said 

Link's racing simulator - located in their officespace
Link's racing simulator - located in their officespace Gerrit Doppenberg

“We haven’t done our staff survey since we came here, but you can tell morale is up.”  

The workspace sports racing simulators, with cars that Link has either worked on or is currently working on.

Employees write their times on a board, leading to a healthy and competitive workplace environment.  

The Hi-Tech awards are a big deal in the NZ tech world – and Link is in good company.  

Other nominees for the company of the year award are names like Rocketlab, Fischer and Paykel healthcare – household names.  

Also in the running is Christchurch-based company Seequent – which recently sold for one billion US dollars.  

Hughes said it was stiff competition 

If you’re up against rocket scientists on one hand, medical specialists on the other, I believe Seequent call themselves the google under the ground so if you’re competing with those it just reinforces that our strategy, our growth plans are equal to those sorts of companies.”  

Hughes said he was in it to win it after falling short for the last couple of years.  

“You don’t always want to be the bridesmaid. You want to occasionally be the bride.” 

The awards will be judged by a panel of international judges – and the criteria are concepts like growth, innovation, revenue, and how they compete internationally.  

The head of the Hi-Tech awards and chief executive of Sway tech, Bob Pinchin, said the company of the year award stood out.  

“Of all the categories, it’s like the main award.”  

Pinchin said Link was a strong choice in its category.  

“The fact that they are able to compete on the global stage and very much dominate the market in which they operate – they've been incredibly successful in the markets in which they operate around the world and have been over a number of years.”  

The awards are set for May 28 in Auckland.