Australia is Just About
to get much Drier ... Indoors Anyway
On the driest continent on earth, it's quirky to consider that a machine which gets rid of moisture could be so keenly in demand. And yet a Port Macquarie couple have discovered that their unique machines, which effectively solve moisture, mould and dampness problems from the most rain-affected parts of Tasmania to the humid tropics of Australia's north - and everywhere in between - would be something that ordinary Australians have become collectively eager to acquire for their homes, offices, hotels, art galleries and beyond. STEWART DAWES speaks to Bob Knuckey, the master of the Moisture Cure phenomenon, about how sometimes Australia becoming a drier place can be a good thing ...
How long ago did you start your dehumidifier business?
We started Moisture Cure about 11 years ago because we recognized a lack knowledge in the way excess moisture and condensation was being addressed. When we asked about dehumidifiers nobody could help us. We found a supplier in Melbourne, bought a few from him and the business grew from there. Today Moisture Cure is one of the largest dehumidifier supply companies in Australia.
What are the benefits of being in business for so long?
Well, for a start you realise there is no such thing as an instant success. I guess the main benefit of being in business for this length of time is the fact that we can recognise more possibilities of the products we sell and we can help customers with any issues they have with mould and dampness. Over the years we have listened to literally thousands of stories from our customers and we can now nearly anticipate the problems they are about to describe. We ask a lot of questions before we recommend a particular product and so we have a very good understanding of the expectations they are wanting from us. We can nearly always offer them the correct solution.
Our experience in this field is a major benefit to our customers.
We back our experience up with quality products that we have developed some history with. Most of our products have been in our range for at least 5 years, some as long as 9, so we have a good understanding of the reliability and the performance of these units. Our dehums are primarily manufactured in Taiwan and this region has a reputation of quality products, unlike mainland China, where most of the large chain store units are sourced from. We also import products from Europe including UK and Switzerland. Another benefit of being in business for this length of time is we have accumulated spare parts for all the units we have sold so we can generally repair the dehumidifiers we have sold, even the older original models.
When did you come up with the name Moisturecure - and why?
Moisture seemed obvious and self explanatory I think. We find solutions (Cure) for dampness, condensation (Moisture) issues. Also, I came from a floor covering background and we used to use a product that set or ‘cured’ by a process called ‘curing by moisture’, so it wasn’t a great leap of imagination to come up with the name Moisture Cure.
How many products do you estimate you've sold over the decade?
We weren’t an overnight success so didn’t sell too many at the start, but I would expect we have sold somewhere around 7000-8000 units. Quite an achievement when you consider Mitsubishi stopped selling dehumidifiers in Australia because they couldn’t achieve sales of 500 units throughout all their dealers in Australia. They publicly declared that it wasn’t possible for them to achieve this figure.
A friend of mine has a very mouldy small apartment in Glebe, 1 bedroom - she just can't fix the problem - what machine should she get?
First of all we would ask her a series of questions for example, what is she trying to achieve, has she a problem in the entire unit, is the mould only a problem in the wardrobes or is the problem everywhere, how many people live there, is the unit ventilated adequately and does she open the blinds and curtains to let the sun shine in? These last two issues are the prime reason mould begins to grow and condensation starts to become a problem. To solve her problem she will have a choice of 2 units.
If the mould problem isn’t too severe, say just her wardrobe or some shoes are growing mould, even though there is sufficient ventilation, the Lubra 122 Dehumidifier should be adequate. If the problem is affecting the entire unit and/or if the unit isn’t being adequately ventilated, we would recommend the Lubra 520. The difference between the 2 units is one will extract more moisture than the other. To sum up her choices , if the mould etc is only slight and she can ventilate and let sunshine in she could get away with the smaller Lubra 122, but if the problem is severe and there is generally more than 1 person in the unit she would be well advised to buy the more powerful Lubra 520. As an added bonus the 520 can also be used as very efficient clothes dryer.
How many hours a day does a dehumidifier need to be used?
When a dehumidifier is first installed we recommend they be run 24 / 7 to extract excess moisture from everything that is holding moisture, including books, paintings, computers and TVs, clothing , handbags and shoes, bedding and furniture, walls and carpets - in fact anything in your home that is holding capable of holding moisture. We suggest you first run the unit in the worst affected room for a couple of days, close the doors and windows to concentrate the drying. Then move to the next room and repeat the drying. When all the rooms have been dried this way you can then run your dehumidifier on what we call maintenance mode. Once all excess moisture is removed your Moisture Cure dehumidifier need only be run for maybe 3-4 hours a day, to maintain the correct level of humidity of around 50-60 %. Of course in a dry spell of weather, you can leave your dehum off for a day or two, but during consistent wet or humid weather, should be run more often.
Almost all high-rise units around Australia have got clothes dryers.
Yet you're advertising that your Moisture 735model can be put into your laundry so people can use it as a clothes-drying machine. Can you explain the principles of this?
Instead of using a clothes dryer in high rise units the Moisture Cure 735 dehumidifier is perfect. Clothes dryer actually create moisture in the air which encourages mould and condensation. A Moisture Cure dehumidifier dries your laundry at a fraction of the electricity costs, causes much less wear and fibre loss on your clothing and dehumidifies your home at the same time. Easy, convenient and practical.
Portable cloths rack can be used to hang washing on , or a pull-out overhead line can be installed at ceiling height. A continuous drain option can even be fitted to your dehumidifier to allow the water collected to bypass the water collection tank within your dehum and drain the water to the floor waste.
What are some of the worst places that struggle with moisture and mould?
Most of our customers live on the East coast between Melbourne and Cairns. Hot spots for us are all of the Northern rivers, mid north coast NSW, Sydney, North and South coast, much of Queensland especially Far North, Gold Coast and hinterland, Sunshine Coast, Brisbane.
We also sell inland, to a lesser degree, to homes that have condensation issues on their windows and walls. Their homes will benefit from being warmer and cosier
Tasmania and Melbourne also have good potential as they are cold and damp for 9 months of the year.
But really any building situated within 10Km of a lake, river or ocean is a potential customer.
Worst situations are where the home is closed up for most of the day, rooms that don’t get used, buildings cut into the landscape, heated indoor pool rooms , walk-in-robes, lower level rooms or storage areas. In particular storage areas for archives, artillery, paper goods, craft items, electronic appliances such as cameras, TVs, computers and so on ...
Where have you delivered your products to so far?
All over the country - they post well. I send them registered post so they're well looked after.
Is there a guarantee on the products?
2 years warranty. We carry out repairs onsite.
Is there an age group that these products are more suited for?
Our main consumers have adequate disposable income and are probably 50 and over. However, younger property owners and parents of young children are also our customers. Anybody with awareness of the potential damage to property and personal affects and health problems mould can cause, are our customers.
You use a cats and dogs amalogy to describe your target markets - can you explain this further please?
Most customers above the age of 40-45 can be classified as dogs. They are accustomed to shopping the old way, going to a large building/ shopping centre, and generally buying because the retailer says the product is great and they it. They are often treated indifferently by staff who know little about the product. They keep coming back because they know no better, and besides, this is the way it’s always been done. They will talk to other people in person, eg at clubs or social gatherings.
Cats on the other hand act differently. Cat customers come to you on their own terms and their own time, they research online, and if the information isn’t presented to them how they expect it to be they switch to someone who does. Cats tend to talk to each other online, eg. facebook, twitter and email etc. Of course, if they have a good experience, they can tell the world, same goes if they have a shitty experience, they tell the world about that too. We try and keep a foot in both camps and cater for cats and dogs.
There is apparently a lot of growth in the older generation, as they try and play catch up with the cats, but we attempt to cater for both camps. For instance, when a cat or dog buys on line from our website, we always follow up with a phone call, thanking them for buying, this gives both camps a warm feeling that we care and are human, and we like this contact too as it allows us to personalise their buying experience and allows us to explain the product in more detail and perhaps upsell.
Doesn't online selling keep the costs of your products down too?
Online selling may seem to entail less overheads but there we don’t think it is significant and we deliberately choose to not disadvantage non online shoppers.
We have introduced free delivery anywhere in Aussie so we need to pad our prices a little to allow for far away places that incur higher freight charges. Maybe we should consider a discount to buy on line.
Also I see that the dehumidifiers can be used in commercial and industrial settings - can you give me some examples of that please?
We're expanding our market to include commercial dehumidifiers and finding that universities, heated indoor swimming pools, manufacturing facilities and laborities among others are interested in these large capacity units. We know there also is a market in commercial areas such as court houses which are sometimes old and have a heritage listing. These buildings suffer from lack of ventilation and sunlight so have a mould and condensation issue.
So looking over the range you've got, can you give people a sense of the context for each of the different types of dehumidifiers?
Our range has grown over the years to include tiny capacity dehumidifiers costing $200 to large volume commercial units costing nearly $10,000. However, the majority of our units are in the range of between $545 -$1150. This range of dehumidifiers will maintain the optimum dampness and humidity levels in the average 2-4 bedroom room.
The smallest dehumidifiers including Cli-Mate Eggs ($30) Cli-Mate Mini ($110) and Cli-Mate Midi ($230) are suitable for small areas such as cupboards, walk-in-robes, small moored boats, stored cars etc.
The Lubra 122 and Suki 610 are both suitable for small 1-2 bedroom areas, priced at $545 they represent great value and cheap running costs.
The Lubra 520 is a mechanical controlled unit that is simple to operate as it is a simple turn on/ turn off operation. It has the power to extract moisture from a typical 3 bedroom home. Price is $795.
The Moisture Cure 928 is of the same capacity as the Lubra 520 but has all the bells and whistles, including 2-speed fan operation, digital temperature and humidity readout, 12 hour timer, and humidity control setting from 30% to 80% - the price is $920
The Moisture Cure 735 is our large capacity domestic 4-5 bedroom home dehumidifier.
It has all the features of the Moisture Cure 928, but can extract nearly double the amount of moisture than the Lubra 520 and Moisture Cure 928. Price $1150.
We are also now selling the Lubra 735. This unit is identical to the Moisture Cure 735, the only difference is it's a little heavy. This is because it uses a reciprocating compressor instead of the rotary compressor that the Moisture Cure 735 uses. There is no difference in performance and price is the same $1150.
The Moisture Cure 3-1 is of the same capacity as the Lubra 520 and the Moisture Cure 928, but it also has the added luxury of including a small air conditioner and a fully functional ionizer. Air conditioners are self explanatory but maybe ionisers are not so well known. These smart little add ons will change negative ions in a room to positive ions and by doing so will keep the air fresher and more healthy, people who have experienced this effect swear by them. This 3-1 unit represents great value at $1200.
Finally, what would you say to someone who's never heard of a dehumidifier before?
If you are having trouble keeping mould and condensation at bay in your home a dehumidifier is what you need. There is no other domestic appliance that will change your living environment so quickly and make such an improvement to your well being.
An airconditioner may dehumidify to a certain extent but is essentially used to cool or heat the ambient temperature and is operationally expensive. Your dehumidifier will remove dampness and lower humidity at a fraction of the cost, and because we recommend ventilating your home by opening doors and windows, your home will be heaps healthier. If you already have an air conditioner, running your dehumidifier in conjunction with it will actually help your aircon to operate more efficiently because the moisture has already been removed, air is lighter and drier. We promise you will see a major improvement in only a few days.
To check out the MoistureCure range simply go to their website www.moisturecure.com.au
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