Design Builders Vision

Design Builders is the premier brand for New Zealanders seeking to create superb one-off homes.

I started the year equipped with a whiteboard and tossing ideas around with my business partner – General Manager of Design Builders Services, Aaron Thompson. I love to start the year off like this. We explore the madness of our ideas that have been allowed time to marinate over the Christmas/New Year period and then align them to our overall strategic plan for the growth of the group.

We emerged with a plan, three key focus items and a feeling of excitement mixed with a healthy amount of discomfort. I like setting stretch targets to bring on just the right level of discomfort to effect growth. We also like to theme our years; from here, 2020 was crowned the ‘Year of the Vision’.

Year of the Pivot

The excitement, with a side of discomfort, that we had for the ‘Year of the Vision’ was quickly replaced, however, by a stiff shot of uneasiness, straight from the top shelf: COVID!!

Once the initial shock had passed, it was time to pivot, and pivot we did. What an opportunity I thought, it is not very often you get to play the hardest level of the game. Luckily, our team was ready to play the game of their lives too and so it was fluidity, decisions, adjustments and eyes forward. You aim where you’re looking after all. It was still the Year of the Vision but not as I’d imagined it from the start.

As I sit here today, our businesses emerging from the financial strain that COVID placed on them, we see a strong construction industry and booming property market. What a time to build. Due to the hard work of our team and the momentum we built up during this period, we are set for a strong recovery next year and we are pleased to be employing more people now at Design Builders Services and in the regions.

We knew executing our whiteboard plans would require us to increase our teams and here we are doing just that.

We bloomed

2020 saw me chuck out the lofty goal of adding three new regions for the 2021 financial year. In truth, the goal had been partly driven by a slight OCD desire for round numbers, like 10 total regions, and that level of discomfort that I like.

I was particularly pleased to establish Design Builders Northland and Design Builders North Auckland this year with Brendan Flude and Sarah & Dan Fawcett. So far, business is booming and they are proving that being hungry and consistent and following the plan can yield results. Working with our partners to develop their businesses from inception to success is one of the real thrills I get from doing what I do and from doing it well and I feel so lucky to be able to do this.

Internal awards

It is always a real pleasure to present the annual Design Builders awards at our conference each year. Last year, these were taken out in a clean sweep by Jeff Marra and the team from Design Builders Waikato, so anticipation this year was high. Could they pull off a repeat or would healthy competition see some new names ready for the engraver’s burin?

Well, it was an interesting event with the Shiny Shoes award for Marketing & Sales Excellence won by Sam Perrin and the Design Builders BOP team. Perrin also took the coveted Design Builders Core Values award, which in a way was a nod to Marra in the Waikato as Perrin was a Design Builders apprentice of sorts under Marra for many years before taking on his own region in the BOP. Then there was the Muddy Boots award for Operational Excellence, which went to Mark Davidge and the Design Builders Wellington team. It was great to see these regions gain some well-deserved recognition amongst their Design Builders peers.

Then there was the Goldie award for overall Business Excellence, aptly named after the Goldie himself, Jeff Marra. This award combined scores from those already awarded plus a few others to reveal the overall Goldie. Now, this is where it got interesting. As I read the criteria to the room, I could see Marra slip his jandals back under the table, slowly coming to grips with the thought that he would be handing over the awards he won last year. And then I announced, “The winner of the Goldie award for Overall Business Excellence 2020 is Design Builders Waikato”.

This was a great result and very fitting for Design Builders Waikato, a testament to doing the basics right, doing them consistently and the compound effect of this being an award-winning business. A case of the master pipped the apprentice, for one more year anyway.

External awards

Our homes are the heroes of what we do, each one telling a story of a home built around you; however, each year we put ourselves out there to be judged amongst our peers at the annual Registered Master Builders House of the Year Awards. Coming off the back of winning a fistful of medals across the group in 2019, including having two homes in the NZ top 100, we again had high expectations in 2020.

And the team definitely delivered and brought home the trophy’s again this year: three Golds, three Category Winners, one Silver and a Bronze. We also had one home make it to the top 100.

This year we also entered in the TIDA Trends International Design Awards. We’d earmarked these after seeing the high level the 2019 winner was producing and we believed we too could produce something memorable for the judges to consider.

We were thus excited and proud to be amongst some of New Zealand’s most reputable groups that play in the Design & Build space when the 8 finalists were officially announced. And to go on from there and actually win was an incredible result and proved once again, on yet another stage, that Design Builders is a standout option for people with a desire to create a one-off home.

While it is always great to see our teams get accolades and recognition for their work it is not the awards themselves that excite me the most. It is that with the greater recognition, more people will find out about Design Builders and realise that they too can access a superb one-off home from one of New Zealand’s best.

Looking forward

2020 is nearly over, but keep an eye out for us in 2021 as we bring unique one-off homes to more of New Zealand. We’ll have a number of new showhomes around the North Island coming to market and with two Golds and two Category winners for our showhomes in the 2020 House of the Year, be sure to check out these bangers when they open.

What else to look forward to in 2021? Well with significant coverage across the North Island, it is time to cross the Cook Strait and start exploring the beautiful regions of the South. We see so many great regions there and, being originally from regional New Zealand in the Hawke’s Bay, I look forward to talking with people that want to represent our brand there and to help bring unique one-off homes to more amazing clients.

While 2020 has been a year most of us won’t forget, I know many of us are looking forward to hitting the re-set button and heading into 2021. I also think it’s important to take some time to reflect, rejuvenate and celebrate. Personally, I’m looking forward to taking a break before cracking back into spreading the good news of unique one-off homes to more people in 2021.

Before then though, I’d like to thank all of those who have been a part of our journey this year, from our clients, staff, subcontractors and suppliers through to our families, thank you all. And from all of us at Design Builders, we hope you find time amongst the summer festivities to get inspired to take on 2021 with renewed vigour as well as to enjoy a safe and relaxing summer!!

Andrew Price
Design Builders NZ CEO