Ten months ago, Bevan Wood (pictured second left) purchased Wood Automotive from his aunt and uncle who had owned and operated the small automotive service and repair business in Tokoroa for 30 years.

Today, with support from the Government-funded Regional Business Partner (RBP) Network, Soda, South Waikato Investment Fund Trust (SWIFT), and the South Waikato District Council’s WORKit MTFJ initiative, 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 – me, senior mechanic Mike, apprentice Clarice (aged 21), new apprentice Moses (aged 24) plus two in the office – my Mum Kylie, who does the accounts, and our new receptionist Amy. 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 Regional Business Partner Network that connects business owners with advice, people, and resources to help them work through their challenges and grow their businesses.

The Government-funded RBP programme funds up to 50 per cent of the cost of management capability training (for a maximum of $5,000 per year) and usually the business matches the amount – but to make the RBP network more accessible for businesses in South Waikato, SWIFT contributes up to $4,500.

SWIFT Chief Executive Amanda Hema says 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 we empower provide jobs and training for local people as well as increasing economic activity in the district,” she says.

Bevan was introduced to Phil Wicks from BSP Advisors who has worked with many small to medium sized businesses.

“He’s given me advice on heaps of things, and it has all helped. I am an auto electrician and mechanic – that’s what I do best – but I was getting bogged down trying to deal with customers and do paperwork. Phil said, ‘Get a receptionist. It will make you more productive in the business.’ So I got a new receptionist and it was the best thing I ever did.

“Phil comes every second or third week when I have time to see him. He sets goals for me to achieve in terms of changing the way we operate. For example, the techs were not writing down all the parts they use. Now every repairs order comes past me so I can check them.

“Phil also connected us with a great website designer who has just done a website for us that really jumps out at you. It’s just gone live and it’s awesome.

“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.”

Story supplied by SWIFT (South Waikato Investment Fund Trust).