Business pumping in tough times

Last updated 15:16 14/11/2012
Scott Hammond

Adding value: Matt Spragg and Carolyn Davies say their Pirtek franchise’s growth in the past three years is down to diversifying, marketing, hard work and great staff.

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Going the extra mile has seen a Marlborough company flourish throughout the recession, with 40 per cent growth in the past year alone.

Husband and wife team Matt Spragg and Carolyn Davies say Pirtek's growth in the past three years, while many of the industries it services have suffered, is down to diversifying, marketing, hard work and great staff.

"We've had our biggest growth in the worst times, which is something we're incredibly proud of," said Spragg.

The couple set up the Marlborough franchise of Pirtek, a hydraulic and industrial hose and fitting business, nine years ago, starting out from their family home in Rarangi, with Spragg on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He came from 13 years maintaining snow groomers, and was able to transfer his experience in fault-finding and hydraulics to the diverse range of machinery in Marlborough.

"We realised pretty soon that just selling and making hoses was going to be pretty hard to make a living on, so we began adding value for the customer, with service and fault-finding as well."

They now have three fulltime employees and two service trucks, run from a service and supply centre in Park Tce, Blenheim.

The wine industry has been a major source of work, with maintenance on machinery as well as sales of industrial hose, but the downturn saw the company court the forestry industry and others, a move that helped it navigate through tough times.

"Marlborough is really lucky to have so much going on, from earthmoving and construction to the aquaculture, wine and forestry industries," said Spragg.

The business works hard to ensure its service "sets the standard", including having a mobile sales and service technician who has a drop box at the end of his State Highway 1 driveway, so forestry crews coming out of the bush can drop off hoses that need to be replaced.

"He puts his kids to bed, then goes into work and bags up the new hoses so they're waiting in the drop box for the guys the next morning," said Davies.

Recent growth has given the couple the confidence to hire a new staff member and buy a new service vehicle, which was beefed up to handle rough forest roads. "It's crucial for us to get our customers back up and running as soon as possible, and it can add hours to the job if we have to walk up to them or get them to ferry us to the site," said Mr Spragg.

For the past three years, the business has received the Pirtek Franchise of the Year award, and this year Spragg also won the Team Member of the Year award, voted by other Pirtek franchisees.

Davies said that for many clients, Pirtek was a "necessary evil" in good times and bad, required to keep machinery running. "They'd rather not need us, but they do."

The winners of the Westpac Marlborough Chamber of Commerce Business Awards will be announced at a gala dinner on Friday.

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- The Marlborough Express


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