The building sector continues to boom in Taupō, with many tradespeople booked out
months in advance. When demand out-strips supply it can be tempting for businesses to
become complacent, letting their customer service levels slip. Not so for Taupō-based Graft
Joinery, who produce custom-made cabinetry for clients across the North Island.
“It’s pretty frustrating when a tradie arrives to give you a quote, and you never hear from
them again” says Julia van Velden, joint owner of Graft Joinery. “Communicating with our
customers is a big focus for us. We’ve found that it’s really important to make sure everyone
is on the same page, so we work hard to keep our clients and suppliers updated at each
point in the process” says Julia.
Graft has been in business for just under one year, and in that time the growth has been exponential. “When we opened our doors we started with one employee. Within three months we had four more team members and a six-month pipeline of work – it’s been pretty crazy” says Julia, who owns the business with her husband Craig.
To help manage their growth, Julia and Craig have enlisted the help of a business mentor through Enterprise Great Lake Taupō. “It’s been so useful to have another set of eyes looking over our business, and to gain insights from someone who is already successful in business. I think New Zealanders often have a mentality that asking for help means you’re failing. But getting some external support has been really beneficial for us” says Julia.
Julia also completed an online ‘fees-free’ business course which she says was hugely
valuable. “The course was part time, so I could fit it around my other commitments. It was pretty straight-forward and included writing a business plan and setting goals. We then used this plan to work out our business strategy and to gain start-up finance from the bank” she says.
Graft Joinery have also been involved in the Taupō Pathways youth employment
programme. The company recently offered an apprenticeship to a Taupō school-leaver. “Caitlin completed her work experience through the programme with us during her final year of school. She enjoyed it so much she kept coming right through the school holidays. We love having young people like her in the factory - they bring lots of enthusiasm and new ideas” says Julia.
Julia says building a strong team culture has been part their success. “Each week we go
mountain biking together as a team. We all enjoy it, and it’s a good way to keep fit and
healthy. We’ve actually just booked the Timber Trail as our annual team-building event. It’s
pushed the budget a bit, but it’s worth it. We want our staff to enjoy working here, and to
know that we value them” says Julia.