Blokes in business : The story behind some Kiwi entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurial spirit comes in many forms and encompasses a diverse range of enterprises.  Throughout the decades New Zealand has produced a variety of independent, successful businesses many of which have achieved not only national recognition but have also flourished internationally.

Often these businesses are driven by a larger than life or high profile ‘personality’ who becomes synonymous with their company or product.  There may well be a tagline or advertising byline that takes on iconic status.  Think The Mad Butcher or Alan -“It’s the putting right that counts”- Martin.  Although the individual approach to business differs they tend to share the same qualities of vision, risk taking, and determination.

We’ve selected a few self-written books and biographies to provide readers with some insight and inspiration from some well-known, and less well-known, modern day New Zealand business blokes.

Life as a casketeer / Tipene, Francis
“…A deep, funny and personal story about the lives of New Zealand’s favourite undertakers, Francis and Kaiora Tipene. Born and raised in Northland, the married couple and parents to five boys now star … in their own reality television show The Casketeers, a show about day-to-day life (and death) at their Auckland funeral business, Tipene Funerals. This is Francis and Kaiora’s story, a story about a modest yet richly cultural Maori upbringing in the communities of Pawarenga and Kaitaia, the trials and tribulations of their love and marriage, the joy of raising five sons, and the dedication and mahi required to grow a business. It’s also a book about traditions of tangihanga, tikanga Maori and Polynesian ways of morning the dead. Inspirational, hilarious, and wise: this is a book to make you see dying, grief and remembrance in a totally new light.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Farm for life : mahi, mana and life on the land / Walker, Tangaroa
“How farming helped Tangaroa Walker to stand up, stand out and realize his own dreams … T’s message is for everybody – he addresses physical and mental health, business and management, personal motivation and more – not just farming”–Publisher information.” (Catalogue)



No excuses : my story from crime to community and fat to fit / Letele, Dave
“The amazing true story of how Dave Letele lost over 100kg and took control of his life – and how you can, too. Dave Letele’s life has taken him from crime to community, footy to failure, riches to rags (and back again), and from fat to fit. Today, he is a businessman, community leader and life coach who helps literally thousands achieve their goals as the face of Buttabean Motivation. He gives out free meals for the homeless and runs a foodbank for people in need. But it wasn’t always like that… Like Dave says, I’ve been at the bottom and the top, and everything in between … If I can do it, you can. This is his story.” (Catalogue)

Pic : adventures in sailing, business, and love / Picot, Pic
“Long before rocketing to fame as a peanut-butter baron Pic earned his keep making cool sandals for his schoolmates and expensive handbags for their mothers. leatherwork paid for his OE. He went to flower-powered San Francisco, had a hair-raising entanglement with a Colorado drug gang, and lived in a bizarre squat in London, before returning to New Zealand and a fortnight in a psychiatric ward. He built a house on a commune, started an old-time photo business, joined a travelling rock band, and became a father. Next, he took up furniture making and helped establish the legendary Parnell Workshops and Storage, where his bespoke chairs morphed into tawdry giftware. After building a boat and sailing the Pacific, Pic moved to Nelson, where he started a spectacularly unsuccessful restaurant. Business success came with his charter-boat directory and sailing school. Then he retired. It was his disgust with commercial peanut butter that started him making his own. In a dozen years, he went from roasting nuts in a concrete mixer to employing fifty people. In February 2019, Pic’s Peanut Butter World opened. Pic’s unusual path to business success offers hope for anyone wanting to follow their dreams. His stories are exciting, full of insight, and very, very funny.” (Publishers description)

No limits : how Craig Heatley became a top New Zealand entrepreneur / Black, Joanne
“No Limits describes Craig Heatley’s entrepreneurial life. It charts the good times and the bad, his philosophies, his approach to currency trading and the significance of becoming the first person from the southern hemisphere to be invited to join the world’s most prestigious golf club, Augusta National, home of the Masters. Craig Heatley was still at high school when he created a subdivision on the back of $200 saved from his paper round. A few years later, building a mini-golf course launched a business that in 1986 saw him become the youngest person to have then featured in the National Business Review’s Rich List. But it is Sky Television that was his boldest and most precarious undertaking. The fledgling company teetered in the early nineties as rugby suffered its own crisis, torn between its amateur heritage and the forces of professionalism. Heatley could see the answer. Making it happen is part of his story.–Publisher’s description.” (Catalogue)

Heart to start : the story of a global start-up plus a guide for turning your ideas into action / Handley, Derek
“The story of a global start-up plus a guide for turning your ideas into action. The true story of how young entrepreneur Derek Handley conceived big ideas in New Zealand and launched them to the world, through a series of electric highs and crushing lows, before discovering what he was really put here to do. This book also includes a practical field guide for shaping your life dreams and goals and turning them into reality. It takes you inside the entrepreneurial mindset, covering energy and time management, filtering which projects to pursue, believing in yourself, redesigning habits and creating ideas that are uniquely yours. ‘Really inspirational and a great read. It will help and inspire budding entrepreneurs and appeal to anyone who wants to map out their lives.’ – Richard Branson” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Zero to 60 : from a wooden caravan to a multi-millionaire dollar business empire / Quinn, Tony
“From growing up in a wooden caravan to building his own state-of-the-art racetrack, this is the remarkable story of Targa champion, Hampton Downs and Highlands Motorsport Park owner Tony Quinn. On a frosty and clear morning in the small, Central Otago town of Cromwell, 2012, Tony Quinn and his son Klark stood with an iPad at the edge of an expansive basin of scrub and grass sketching the curves, corners and chicanes of an imaginary race-track. Less than 18 months later, Cromwell was abuzz at the inaugural Highlands 101, with visitors from all over Australasia flocking to Highlands Motorsport Park for the opening of the new 25-million-dollar racing circuit. To some people, building a racetrack in the middle of nowhere might have seemed like an impossible dream, but not to Tony Quinn. To be successful in life you have to think positive and in motorsport, you’ll never win a race unless you’re truly convinced that you can,’ he says. … As Tony says, ‘Where there’s shite, there’s money’. Starting out with a plan to get rid of dead cows in Dargaville, Tony founded a fat-rendering plant called Fatman, which sowed the seeds for a remarkable story of success in pet food, culminating in selling his business, VIP Petfoods, for over 400 million dollars in 2015.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

A bloke for all seasons : the Peter Yealands story / Percy, Tom
“A true maverick, Peter Yealands is a Marlborough legend and national figure of prominence in both the aquaculture and viticulture industries. He received the first marine farming license and he and his family were pioneers in the New Zealand mussel farming industry. Though a regular but reluctant name on the national rich list, many aspects of his business career represent archetypal ‘David and Goliath’ scenarios. His David to Jim Delegat’s Goliath was the Oyster Bay takeover story; a full-fledged battle between Peter Yealands and the Delegats Group both vying for control of the Oyster Bay Vineyard – successful brand but a puzzlingly unprofitable company. Yealands now owns the largest privately owned vineyard in New Zealand. And if that wasn’t enough he then built the world’s most ecologically advanced winery devoted to the concept of 100% sustainability. With such innovations as plastic bottles and Babydoll sheep to graze the vineyards, he has never let conformity stand in the way of innovation. Throughout it all he has maintained a consistent indifference to critics, an expansive and creative imagination and an unwavering dedication to hard work. The embodiment of Kiwi know-how and No. 8 wire ingenuity, and now an internationally regarded proponent of practical and profitable sustainability, Peter Yealands is indeed A Bloke for All Seasons.” (Catalogue)

Pete the Bushman : hunting tales and back-country lessons from a wild West Coaster / Salter, Peter
“The adventures of Pete the Bushman, a wild West-coaster from Pukekura, New Zealand’s answer to Crocodile Dundee and a man who owns his own town. This book about a true New Zealand bushman, of a life lived against the grain, of adventure in New Zealand’s thickest wilderness and a lifestyle any Kiwi bloke would envy. Pete the Bushman has lived a life inseparable from the bush – these are his stories of running down deer on foot, heli-hunting in his own chopper, finding the perfect woman and eking out a living from the bush. He and his wife Justine run the Bushman’s Centre, 35 mins south of Hokitika, established in 1991 as a place to show visitors how local people use the South Island forest. Pete’s cafe and the Puke Pub (opposite the centre) are famous for wild food, particularly possum, offering snacks like possum jerky and possum pie. They won one of the Monteith’s Wild Food Challenge, with ‘Chicken of the Forest’, ‘a baked, spiced possum on a bed of fresh vegetables with a touch of wild bush mint sauce’. Also known as ‘Possum Pete’, the Bushman is one of the eccentric and colourful characters featured on TVNZ’s ‘This Town’.” (Catalogue)

Hamilton’s jet : the biography of an icon / Walsh, John
“When Bill Hamilton won the contract to construct an aerodrome at Mt Cook in 1935, the sheep farmer-turned-engineer was on his way to establishing an engineering business eventually to employ 500 people in Christchurch that would leave its mark on the post-War infrastructural development of New Zealand. Yet it was Sir William Hamilton’s jet boat hobby that made him internationally renowned. He and his team discovered for themselves the secret to a successful jet boat, one that could tackle the swift-flowing rivers of the South Island. Soon Hamilton’s jet was making headlines conquering the Colorado River upstream through the Grand Canyon, river racing in Mexico, re-tracing Stanley’s footsteps in Zaire and jetting Sir Edmund Hillary in the sacred Ganges in India. In the economically turbulent 1980’s, CWF Hamilton & Co nearly succumbed like so many companies. To secure its future, the Company morphed from a multi-product heavy engineering business, aimed at the domestic market, to a single product-line manufacturer with a global perspective. That product was not the jet boat but the waterjet propulsion system itself. The untold story of the Company’s success on the world stage from that point on, in competition with Rolls Royce no less, is a salutary lesson in how to make commercial success of Kiwi ingenuity. Hamilton Jet is now the dominant propulsion choice for high-speed oil industry crew boats, navy and coast guard patrol boats, fast ferries and lately offshore windfarm servicing vessels around the world. With millions of dollars of waterjet product leaving the Christchurch factory each week, the legacy and romance of Bill Hamilton lives on”–Publisher’s description.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Legend : from electric fences to global success : the Sir William Gallagher story / Goldsmith, Paul
“The story of New Zealand’s most successful exporter and its head, Bill Gallagher, who built on the invention of an electric fence to make the company a world leader in its field. New Zealanders are always being exhorted to take a clever idea and go global. Easier said than done. But one iconic company has been doing just that for over 75 years. Gallagher Industries began in a Hamilton shed in the late 1930s, when a self-taught engineer, Bill Gallagher, came up with a design for an electric fence that transformed New Zealand farming. His sons Bill junior and John took over the business in the 1970s and applied their engineering genius and driving ambition to turn it into one of this country’s most successful companies. Today it employs 600 staff in New Zealand and has distributes its animal containment and security products worldwide. Even Buckingham Palace is protected by a Gallagher security system Based on a ceaseless quest for efficiency and world-beating new technology, Gallagher products are peerless, and the company’s achievements the stuff of envy.And along the way Bill Gallagher, now Sir William, has managed to have plenty of adventure — including diving for sunken treasure with Wade Doak and the late Kelly Tarlton. This fascinating book tells how Kiwi can-do can be transformed into global success – and for the long haul. It hasn’t been easy: more than once Gallagher has had to pull his business back from the brink, but his inspired leadership got it through. Other companies may fall to overseas owners or lose their way but under Sir William Gallagher, Gallagher Industries – resourceful, nimble and generous in its philanthropy – is a proud New Zealand business that’s here to stay.” (Catalogue)

Toughen up : what I’ve learned about surviving tough times / Hill, Michael
“Lessons from New Zealand’s top entrepreneur on surviving tough times. Michael Hill believes it’s possible to succeed in a downturn – in fact, it is the perfect situation in which to perfect a business.” “Lessons from New Zealand’s top entrepreneur on surviving tough times. Michael Hill believes it’s possible to succeed in a downturn – in fact, it is the perfect situation in which to perfect a business. International jewellery store-chain owner Michael Hill believes the struggling economy can be a good thing for businesses and entrepreneurs. Instead of fearing the side-effects of recession, wallowing in gloom and convincing ourselves the only safe haven is at home under the blankets, entrepreneurs can use this period to their advantage. With the right attitude, you can not only survive, but also emerge from the crunch with a new feeling of prosperity and strength. Over the years, Michael Hill has had just about every possible experience in business- from lie-awake-at-night nerves to the joy of unexpected success. He’s reshaped the landscape under his feet and he has ventured into new territory. And at every moment, he has relished the excitement of it all. Once, he was an outsider in his industry; the cheeky startup whom nobody expected to succeed. The established players had no reason to view him as a threat. Now, his business is the establishment” (Catalogue)

If you need more information please contact the Prosearch team at the library.  We can help you find information across a range of perspectives and resources.  All enquiries are treated in confidence.

Considering a franchise?

According to the 2021 Franchising New Zealand survey conducted by Massey University Business School, there are around 590 franchise brands represented in New Zealand.

This makes Aotearoa one of the most franchised in the world.  These franchises cover a diverse range of products and services including, but not limited to icecream, companion driving services, gardening, home maintenance, health products, accounting and legal services and of course, a wide range of fast food brands.  You can read a summary of the survey here.

The research also shows that franchised businesses have continued to grow despite the challenges brought about by Covid.

The Franchising New Zealand 2021 report indicates the annual turnover of business format franchises grew by $9.2 billion in the past four years to $36.8b, from $27.6b in 2017, excluding sales from motor vehicle and fuel retail.

If you are starting out in business what are the benefits of a franchise over starting your own business from scratch?

For a start, becoming a franchisee gives your business instant brand recognition as well as support from the parent company thereby making starting up a business a less risky option.

For a first hand look at what it’s like to be a new franchise holder I talked to Nick and Mel who, in 2020,  ventured into the world of business ownership through franchising when they opened two Wellington outlets for the iconic American icecream brand, Ben and Jerry’s.

As Nick says, buying into the franchise was

“… the right thing for us… for us it was perfect.  It took the guesswork out of the equation …”

as they were starting out on the business ownership journey.  Franchising has the added benefit of being able to learn from those more experienced, who share their knowledge and mentor new owners.

“If we can learn from someone else who’s maybe made mistakes once before, we can avoid making them”.

Watch our video to learn more about Nick and Mel’s experiences of starting their business journey by becoming franchisees for a well loved brand during a global pandemic.

If you think franchising might be the right way for you to start a business, both Franchise New Zealand and the Franchise Association of New Zealand offer advice and free training to help you decide on all the aspects that you need to know before signing an agreement.

Free copies of the publication Franchise New Zealand can be read online or requested from the website.  Print copies may be found on the display stand at your library.  If not you can request them.

Other library material that could assist someone considering taking on a franchise include:

Australian and New Zealand business franchise guide.
“The Australia & New Zealand Business Franchise Guide is your introduction and manual to the world of franchising. Each chapter in the book is authored by an industry expert. This comprehensive book will lead you through all the steps necessary to fulfil your dreams of owning your own business. The Australian & New Zealand Business Franchise Guide can be utilised as a hand reference on specific topics, or can be read straight through to give a sound knowledge base regarding what is involved in buying, owning and running a franchise business. There is a lot to consider before becoming a franchisee, so inside you will find helpful articles on all things franchising, written by distinguished specialists within the franchising sector, including articles from the Franchise Council of Australia (FCA), the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) plus many more. Whether you are considering buying a franchise or have recently established a franchise system, the team from Business Franchise Guide wish you the best of luck and success with your franchising journey.” (Catalogue)

New Zealand’s top franchise leaders secrets revealed / Burdon, Peter
“International author, branding expert and media trainer Pete Burdon is joined by New Zealand’s top franchise leaders to provide you with the inside secrets to financial freedom in franchising.”–Back cover.” (Catalogue)

If you want to learn more about Ben and Jerry’s and becoming an iconic brand then this audiobook makes a good listen :

100 great businesses and the minds behind them / Ross, Emily
“This fully revised and updated edition of 100 Great Businesses and the Minds Behind Them provides an up-to-the-minute look at a diverse collection of people, their businesses and how they make their enterprises work. From risk-loving entrepreneurs Richard Branson and the boys at Google to self-starters like IKEA’s Ingvar Kamprad; from one-person brands like Oprah to billionaire investment oracle Warren Buffett, this book delves into the hearts, minds and business plans of some of the world’s most successful businesspeople. Profiles include creative geniuses such as food guru Jamie Oliver, vacuum-cleaner mogul James Dyson and accidental ice-cream entrepreneurs Ben & Jerry. This is an accessible collection of stories from Australia and around the world that offers inspiration, ideas and lessons on the principles of successful businesses. 100 Great Businesses and the Minds Behind Them looks at what makes entrepreneurs tick, what drives them, and highlights the pivotal moments in the lives of their businesses. It is a book with lasting lessons on the art of making your business a success.” (Catalogue)

If you need more information please contact the Prosearch team at the library.  We can help you find information across a range of perspectives and resources.  All enquiries are treated in confidence.

Two recent reports of interest

Two reports have recently been published that will interest Wellington’s business community.

In February MBIE’s Chief Economist Unit published a working paper entitled 
New Zealand’s areas of (economic) strength : A literature review
The abstract says :  This report presents the findings of a literature review about New Zealand’s areas of economic strength (and critical weakness) compared with other countries. As well as considering ‘traditional’ areas of economic strength using a product/industry lens, this review deliberately takes a broad view of areas of strength. On the former, New Zealand has current and historic strengths in agriculture, some niche manufactures and tourism. On the latter, New Zealand has performed consistently well over time in areas such as fundamental institutions, social capital/trust, health, education and employment. New Zealand’s comparative weaknesses include our persistently poor productivity performance, and some environmental and distributional outcomes. The persistence in many strengths and weaknesses highlights the role of path dependence in New Zealand’s economic

The New Zealand Institute of Economic Research has recently published Zooming into better work-life balance?  Gender and equity insights from New Zealanders’ experiences with working from home in which the authors “… assess the potential implications of the increasing trend towards working from home on wellbeing and career progression, particularly regarding the impact on women. Although most New Zealanders found the working from home experience during the recent lockdowns a positive experience overall, our research commissioned by ASB Bank finds women took on a greater share of childcare and home-schooling duties. We discuss ways to mitigate the impacts on career progression to ensure equity for all workers”.

If you need more information please contact the Prosearch team at the library.  We can help you find information across a range of perspectives and resources.  All enquiries are treated in confidence.

Digital Boost – support for small businesses

Digital Boost is a series of free, self-paced training videos prepared by MBIE for the benefit of small businesses.

These short – 3-5 minute – videos give you the full rundown on how to operate a business in today’s world.  There are hundreds available with printed learning summaries.

MBIE’s figures show that over 40,000 small businesses are participating in this free training initiative.  If your business isn’t one of them, sign up now.

Learn more here

Workplace Wellness Report 2021

The Workplace Wellness report 2021 has just been released.

Undertaken every two years by Southern Cross Health Insurance and BusinessNZ, the report is now in its fifth edition.

Unsurprisingly there has been an increase in workplace flexibility with more businesses offering a work from home option.  While most employees find this positive there has also been an increase in the feelings of isolation.  Overall businesses report an increase in stress levels around workload.

Katalyst Business Directory

Are you seeking information on potential suppliers, competitor products and companies or possible new clients?

Why not ask us to do a search in Katalyst?

Katalyst is a New Zealand business directory that provides business users with comprehensive information about NZ companies, people, products, and services.

Katalyst contains comprehensive profiles on 17, 500 New Zealand businesses including details on their activities, brands, people, products and services searchable by 30 different criteria including location, number of employees, turnover, products (by ANZSIC code), job category or job title.

Use Katalyst Business to:
• Find new suppliers of products and services
• Research companies, markets and industries
• Identify and target key areas
• Produce lists for direct mail campaigns
• Find sales leads & make new contacts
• Put your products in front of B2B purchasers

Remote access to Katalyst is not available however it may be accessed for free via the public internet computers in our libraries, or by placing a request with the Proquest team.

Click here to contact the Prosearch team at the library.  We can help you find information across a range of perspectives and resources.  All enquiries are treated in confidence.