By Lana Guineay
From a clothesline in a McLaren Flat backyard – to the world. It’s been dazzling rise for the humble Hegs peg, and inventor Scott Boocock.
It all started with the Hegs CEO and founder hanging his wife’s strappy black dress on the Hills Hoist, trying to fasten it securely without creasing the garment.
“How much easier would it be if there were pegs with hooks?” Scott thought – and so sparked a simple, yet innovative idea that would turn into an award-wining globally distributed business.
But how do you take a light bulb moment and turn into a viable product?
It’s a question facing all entrepreneurs, and saw Scott turn to the Internet.
“I jumped on Google with a cup of coffee and typed in ‘pegs with hooks’ and there were about 348,000 images, so I thought ‘that’s it. Someone has done this idea already’,” he says.
“But as I realised that none of them had hooks on the peg – so I decided I’m going to patent this and take it further.”
With a background in business management, Scott had never worked in manufacturing, and says it was a huge learning process to take the heg from idea to reality.
Five prototypes (and blood, sweat and tears) later, Scott walked into his local Drake’s supermarket.
It was fellow the South Australian company’s support that gave the heg legs.
“I said ‘here’s my heg, it’s an Aussie innovation, and it doesn’t exist on shelves worldwide’ and I walked out of there with 55 supermarkets,” Scott says.
“Drakes Supermarkets is very important to me…without Drake’s it might not even have got to market.”
In 2015 Scott took Hegs on TV show Shark Tank, where Red Balloon’s Naomi Simson made a deal to invest and work with the company.
They worked together to ensure Hegs was 100% owned and produced in SA, despite Scott being initially advised he could only manufacture overseas.
“The South Australian story for me is really important,” he says.
“I went to China, but then I did some due diligence and realised we could bring all of the manufacturing back to SA – so we did that. It’s all South Australian made.”
Today, with “hegquarters” in Tonsley, Hegs exports everywhere from the UK to Mexico, including distribution through ALDI. The production line sees 63,000 Hegs produced each day across five local manufacturing plants.
Scott is passionate about sharing everything he’s learned with fellow South Aussies, and Hegs is a proud supporter of entrepreneurs, mentoring and helping them get their product to market.
“The problem with a lot of inventors and entrepreneurs, they have one product, and trying to get one product on the shelf is really hard,” Scott says.
“99 out of 100 products just don’t hit the market. We don’t have to own part of their company- it’s about them, helping them get to market by using the Hegs brand.”
Scott says his own DIY journey made him realise the importance of a local support network.
“I wish someone was there for me when I first started, to be that company that could educate me on IP and marketing and sales and distribution,” he says.
“There are millions of ideas, aren’t there? How do you grab that one good idea? And once you’ve got that one good idea, how do you actually do something with it? That’s the tricky part and that’s where people come to us.”
Born and bred in Alice Springs, Scott married an Adelaide local and re-located to SA to raise his family. Scott says SA is a “brilliant” state to do business.
“In the larger states, it’s really hard to get meetings with ministers and governments and retailers, whereas here everyone’s open to helping you.”
By outsourcing to other SA companies for everything from logistics to accounting, Hegs makes sure “the money stays here”.
But it’s not just about the money.
“One of the exciting parts for me is that I can go down with my family to the factory and see the Hegs rolling off the production line,” Scott says.
“I have an eight-year-old and a ten-year-old, and to be able to walk down to the factory – it’s exciting and I couldn’t do that overseas, it would just be a product arriving in a box,” he says.
“It’s also for the team here to be able to walk down and see that happening, we understand what we’re doing and why we’re doing it.”
“What I love about South Australia is that it’s not just about the government leading the way, it’s the entrepreneurs, it’s the incubators and the awards that we offer.
“South Australia is a great place for entrepreneurs. For me it’s number one in Australia, there’s no doubt about it.”