Collaborating for success and workforce growth
Ten months ago Bevan Wood bought Wood Automotive from his Aunty Kathy and Uncle Barry Wood who had owned and operated the small automotive service and repair business for 30 years.
Today, with support from Government-funded Regional Business Partner (RBP) Network, RBP manager Soda, South Waikato Investment Fund Trust (SWIFT), and the South Waikato District Council’s WORKit initiative that places young people in jobs or training, the business is on the verge of becoming one of the biggest automotive repair shops in South Waikato.
“We have four people on the tools including two apprenticeship (one that joined in July 2022)and two in the office. If we take on one more person, I might be the biggest automotive shop in the district.”
Bevan says the success and growth he is now experiencing was by no means guaranteed when he took over the business.
“I was originally going to buy another automotive business, but my uncle said, ‘Why don’t you take over the family business?’ It seemed like a good idea, so I came to work for him four years ago and started picking everything up.
“When I started on my own, I was struggling to keep up with the workload and was juggling family life with my partner Hayley and our two young kids. I needed help with what to do around staff – what were good ideas, and what were bad ideas – and getting my name out there.”
Through another new business owner, Bevan heard about the Government-funded Regional Business Partner Network that connects business owners with advice, people, and resources to help them work through their challenges and grow their businesses. RBP funds around 50% of the support up to $5,000 and usually the business pays the rest – but to make the RBP network more accessible for businesses in South Waikato, SWIFT contributes the lion’s share of the business’s contribution, up to $4,500.
SWIFT’s co-funding helps to build the capability of South Waikato entrepreneurs and small business owners through which they gain the confidence to grow. This results in long term community benefits as the businesses provide jobs and training for local people as well as increasing economic activity in the district.
Bevan was introduced to Phil Wicks from BSP Advisors who has worked with many small to medium sized businesses.
“I wouldn’t be where I am now without RBP, SWIFT, Soda and BSP. When you are a business rookie like I am one of the best things to do is get a business advisor to help you out. I’m glad I did. I’ve recommended to other businesses that they should connect with SWIFT to see how they can get business support to help their growth.”
The other agency that has been invaluable in helping Bevan to grow his business is WORKit which has helped to fund wages and tools for one of his apprentices.
“I’m always up for training and apprenticeships. I like teaching and we need more young people coming through. My apprentices are great”.