Opening a new branch in the midst of COVID lock-downs wasn't the easiest of tasks. Mike Pekin and Tom Kimber explain how Mt Maunganui did just that and secured the first NZ Group Branch of the Year win.
2020 wasn't an auspicious time for the new Mount Maunganui branch to open. But just over two years later, the Mount has taken out the 2022 QOM Branch of the Year Award, the first New Zealand branch to do so. Branch Manager Mike Pekin says enjoying what you're doing is a huge factor for business success.
As the first New Zealand branch to win, what does it mean to you?
It hasn't sunk in yet. It was a very surreal night for me. I'd never had a board of directors rush the stage to give me a hug! When I texted the guys to tell them we'd won, it was midnight back here. I got a reply straight away. Everyone's stoked. I've got a guy that works for me, Craig, he's a grumpy one. He's still got a smile on his face 10 days later. Even our customers are sharing in the glory.
How do you think you did it? What made the difference?
We take a lot of pride in the business. I work with a great team. Before we opened, we put our heads together. We were three very different personalities and that's what we built the atmosphere of the branch around. Customers come in, they can hear laughter coming from the service bay and they know we're happy to be here. We know our equipment. We'll give them what they need.
Why do you think Kennards Hire is a great company to work for?
You're not just a number at Kennards Hire. They genuinely care about you. Probably because it's a family-owned business. They show their appreciation in so many ways: awards nights, family days, bonuses, gift cards. It's not them and us. It feels like we're all working together.
Tell us about your career journey with Kennards Hire?
I came over from New Zealand and worked for a hire company at Port Hedland for five years, drove trucks in Brisbane for 18 months then moved to Darwin to work for another hire company. Then I saw the job of assistant manager at Kennards Hire's Palmerston Branch. By the end of the next day, I had the job. In 2020, Kennards Hire gave me the chance to move back home and manage the new branch in Mount Maunganui. My family and I arrived back in New Zealand in March. By the time we came out of isolation the country was in lockdown. We had nowhere to live and the real estate offices were all shut. The new branch finally opened at midday on 8 June 2020. It was a rocky start, but we haven't looked back.
How important are the company values in relation to what you've achieved?
I worked in the hire business in outback Australia for a long time, and it was very stressful. I used to deal with the Kennards Hire guys in Perth by phone and they always made work look so easy. They were so relaxed and accommodating. They'd go out of their way to help you. Nothing was too much trouble and everything was done with a smile and a joke. I thought that must be a great company to work for because everyone seems to enjoy their work. It's been a real education in how to treat customers and staff!
Tom Kimber, General Manager, New Zealand shares his thoughts on the Mount Maunganui win.
Having Mt Manganui take out the first companywide 2022 QOM awards for a New Zealand branch, came at a fitting time with Kennards Hire coming up to its 10th anniversary since it opened its first branch in New Zealand.
Mike Pekin, along with his team of Craig Whitaker, Gordon Campbell, Kent Troughton, Matt Enoka and Blake Scrivener are to be congratulated for their tenacity at working towards being better every day. Driving a culture of continual improvement is what has resulted in this wonderful achievement. Kennards Hire has incredibly high standards across the board and for Mt Manganui Branch to take the top award out of 190+ branches is a feat not to be understated.
As with all our branches, the Mount Maunganui Branch is a product of the hard work and commitment from the wider Kennards Hire group. It wasn't our plan to build and open a branch in the middle of nationwide lockdowns and the COVID pandemic certainly tested the resolve of the entire team. It was an incredible effort by teams from across New Zealand and Australia to open a branch under such challenging conditions and one that I was extremely honoured to witness.
Congratulations again to Mike and team on a truly proud moment not only for the Branch, but also a significant moment in Kennards Hire New Zealand history.