David’s entry into the Gift Industry started after he and his former business partner sold their business. David has a background in the property and private hospital sectors while Joanna had previously been in hospitality and recruitment.
It all started with David checking out the Businesses for Sale column in the Herald, he spotted the advert that eventually led he and Joanna to own Flower Systems, a going concern which started life in the 1970’s.
Knowing Joanna had an interest in colour and design, David’s first thoughts on seeing the advert were “this is something Jo would enjoy” and it was an opportunity to own a business they could relate to, and improve. Jo was a little unsure, but like David, was ready to meet the challenge ahead.
Flower Systems was an existing business, but David and Joanna decided quite early on that it was time for the business to change in many ways. Their first priority was to start get to know their staff, sales reps and their customers. From there the internal systems were changed and upgraded which then met their current needs. It was then onto sourcing new products and suppliers to ensure the highest quality product we available to meet customers’ requirements.
Motivated by their own high personal standards it meant that David and Joanna always did their best to reflect these across both the business and ethical business practices. They can also attribute the success of their business to two things; their staff and sheer hard work. Focusing on what needs doing, and just get on and do it.
The industry was new to them 10 years ago and they decided to do what felt right for both themselves and their business, rather than worry too much about what the competition were doing. While they enjoy competition, it wasn’t their first priority, even though it did keep them on their toes. They actively engaged with their customers, aiming to deliver what they wanted where ever possible.
The business was quite a family affair, over the past 10 years they have been fortunate to have their family involved at various times and in all sorts of ways.
For a couple working together in a business, they found it was important not to let the business take over their lives. They tried to separate work and home life, doing their best not to discuss work outside work hours. Admitting to regularly failing at this, they did however take time to get away and enjoy physical pursuits of the things they love, cycling, skiing and enjoying the beach.
A piece of sound advice that was applied to the day to day business operation was “to always deal with issues and problems while they are small. It is easier to deal with small issues daily before they become big issues”.
A lot goes into owning your own business and after all the hard work, finally seeing the results was a definite sense of success. They had a marvelous reliable, hardworking team supporting them, and feel the team should all take much of the credit for the business success. We had a lot of fun and enjoyed every day we came to work, despite the daily challenges, it was a great place to spend the work day.
Anyone thinking about getting into the industry should know that the Gift Trade is a great industry in which to be involved. There are many talented people who want to work hard and achieve their goals. It’s full of positive, “get up and go” people who also know that good rewards can be achieved with hard work.
Deciding to sell business after 10 years they felt it was time for somebody else to take the reins and for David and Joanna an opportunity now to spend more time with family, old and young. They have kids and long lost friends overseas to catch up with. Also as keen cyclists and enthusiastic skiers, there is plenty to keep them busy, and of course there is “the list” Jo has prepared for David!
A bit of wisdom that David shares is that in business your staff and reps are your greatest asset. David and Jo are fortunate to have met and gotten to know many great customers, with some having become good friends.
Likewise, they went to many supplier factories in strange places, discovering that they were mostly family companies dealing with concerns no different to ours with many of them becoming friends.
In the 10 years of owning Flower Systems, David and Joanna worked much harder and longer than they ever thought they would. They travelled to many places they would never have normally gone to. For David and Joanna, it was ‘the people made the difference’.
David joined the Executive Committee in 2010 and is now retiring from this position having sold the business. He has always been a loyal supporter of the Gift Fairs and a valuable member on the executive committee.
As a longtime supporter of the Gift Fairs, David was well known around the gift fairs for his great sense of humour, and as a very people oriented person who actively supported and engaged other NZGTA members.
Now leaving the industry David and Joanna wish to acknowledge the many wonderful people they met in the NZ Gift Trade (including XPO staff), and wish them all the best for the future.