News: 17 February 2015
I started my little company in 1981, then called Cargo Forwarders (NZ) Ltd, as a 21 year old with more ambition than experience, not really having any plans to “go it alone”.
The company traded very sporadically, usually on project work or small assignments (initially the ground handling for a Bristol Freighter at Auckland Airport late at night), whilst safely in the employ of others with the comfort and security of a salary.
Falling foul of my corporate employers at TNT found me with the time (and no employment prospects) to go for it, and we unintentionally joined the ranks of New Zealand owned business, albeit with no clients, no money and few prospects.
As the years passed, we employed one then two and three employees (Ricky #2 and Lilian #3 are still with us), then more as circumstances allowed.
A steep learning curve was required to keep on top of the bureaucracy involved in running a business, the duplicity and incompetence of our bank and other advisers, and the receivership of debtors nearly causing the premature demise of our little company.
Inspiration came from those around us, and whilst we could not compare ourselves to the famous old names of long established and successful businesses within our industry (all now long since gone – Carr and Haslam dating back to the 1860’s excepted), we dreamt of becoming accepted as part of the “Establishment”, a lofty goal for those of us on the fringes, particularly as entry to this club was restricted to those of finer pedigree.
We struggled through, living off whatever we could scrape up doing whatever came our way and eventually business came good, keeping the wolf from the door day by day, week by week, and here we are 30 years later, with 50 people making up our family.
Our story is typical of many (perhaps most) Kiwi owned companies across a multitude of industries, services and trades, short on capital, long on hope , with dreams and ambition, tempered by the willingness to work long and hard to earn the respect of the community and enjoy whatever is left after everyone else takes their share.
We have never enjoyed the benefit of a multi-national “parent” to fund us when times were tough, and have always had to manage on a shoestring. Our people are Kiwi’s, some of whom with generations of local history as their heritage, others are more recent Kiwis, born somewhere else but who have chosen to raise their children here.
Both as a company and as individuals, we are committed to each other and to New Zealand - we pay business and personal tax here, and cannot retreat anywhere else in the advent of adversity. Over the years we have seen many big international names decide that things are too tough - a colleague once worked as the NZ manager for an American airline – one day he received a telex (if you know what a telex is, you must be old) telling him to fire all the staff. There was one further telex the next day, just for him…
We don’t pay KPMG or PwC $800 per hour to juggle our affairs, to manipulate our numbers and to spirit profits off shore (all quite legally).
We’re not knocking companies whose ownership is overseas, and we do appreciate the jobs that they generate but we believe that supporting local businesses before making the decision to use an alternative –no question that they employ local people, and do play a very important role, but perhaps as Kiwi’s we should all consider where our first priorities lie.
News addaed by: Don Malcom 17 February 2015