Waikato lifestyle lures new businesses

NEW LIFE: Jeff Hiscock and Nadine Mesnage and daughter, Faye, are among a small number of business owners who have moved to the Waikato from Auckland for a better lifestyle, pay and better housing.
NEW LIFE: Jeff Hiscock and Nadine Mesnage and daughter, Faye, are among a small number of business owners who have moved to the Waikato from Auckland for a better lifestyle, pay and better housing.

Hamilton is attracting small businesses intent on tapping into the city's combination of growth and laid-back lifestyle.

Waikato Chamber of Commerce chief executive Sandra Perry said the Chamber had noticed "lots of interest in Hamilton" over the last few months as businesses either investigated or chose to set up here.

"I think it's partly because Auckland is expanding so quickly," she said.

She said that Hamilton was an easy place to do business because its infrastructure was excellent, but it still had "that small city closeness and cohesiveness".

That's what convinced Admin Plus, a company which outsources administrative staff, that Hamilton was the perfect location for its first branch.

The Hawkes Bay company, which started in 2007, opened here in March.

Business manager Tina Lord said aside from size, the Hamilton business community worked "pretty much the same way that Hawke's Bay does".

"The way we've grown our business here is through our contacts and our networking, and we noticed that Hamilton worked in alignment with what we do here in Hawke's Bay," she said.

The Hawke's Bay branch now has 55 clients, and the Hamilton branch has secured three clients inits seven weeks of being open.

"It's exceeded our expectations because we were kind of planning on tracking about eight months before we even gained a new client."

She said the market was also a good fit because of the lack of competition, and the growth track Waikato was on.

"For us specifically it was little competition in the industry that we're in, plus just the sheer size of the region . . . and the way that it's progressing quite rapidly."

Aucklanders Jeff Hiscock and Nadine Mesnage moved to the Waikato partway through 2012 to set up a Bikrum Hot Yoga centre in Hamilton. They saw a gap in the market, and figured the business might just work in the Waikato.

"There were already a few of them in Auckland and there was no hot yoga in Hamilton," Hiscock said. "All we had was a website and no other advertising and on opening day we had 108 people."

Hiscock moved his company Versatile Electrical to the Waikato 10 months later.

"We've got a newborn little baby, and before she was born I decided to stop and make it happen down here," he said.

"Although I've got no issues with Auckland, people are a bit more friendly and helpful down here."

He said word of mouth meant he was busy with work already. "Hamilton is a good central location for work, it's a decent sized city so there's plenty of opportunities for work.

"If I did go to the far north, which I did consider, there are less opportunities for work and it's quite far away from things."

He said the family had bought a lifestyle block overlooking the sea in Raglan, which offered them a quality of life that would have been out of reach in Auckland. "Our place we bought down here would have been probably worth triple in Auckland.

"I just can't see myself affording that at any point in my life in Auckland."

Auckland renovation project managing company Refresh Renovations has opened two franchise branches in Hamilton this year.

One of the franchise managers, Carlos Arriola, said internal market research had indicated there was a gap in the Hamilton market.

The company made the roles available and Arriola decided to take one up.

"There was nobody here in Hamilton and things seem to be going really well in the construction market," he said.

"I wanted a better mix of work and lifestyle than the one you can get in Auckland maybe. So this was a good choice for us."

He said the company had had a "really positive" response and was looking forward to getting stuck into work.

Waikato Times