In 2012, family-owned Kennards Hire kicked off its New Zealand operations with nine branches in Auckland following the acquisition of McEntee Hire. Today, the business has 28 branches and 200 employees across the country. Some of those original McEntee employees are still on the team!
It's a story of success fuelled by a great employee culture, loyalty and above all, a commitment to going the extra mile for customers.
Where it all began
South Auckland Area Manager, Rory Jackson, had worked for McEntee Hire for 14 years prior to the Kennards Hire acquisition. He has a vivid memory of “a bloke in a panama hat” coming into the branch where he was working in late 2012. That was Andy Kennard.
Rory said there was trepidation about the company being taken over by the team from Australia, but that quickly changed. He recalls senior managers and the team who came over to mentor staff on “the Kennards Hire way”.
“After striving to provide great experiences for our customers for so long with scant resources, I realised we now had the financial means to make it a reality. It was a joyful moment!”
What drives the success of the New Zealand business?
Tom Kimber, the General Manager of Kennards Hire NZ, also worked for McEntee Hire. He said it was a good company with very customer-centric staff that had been hit hard by the global credit crisis.
"The funding, processes and quality of Kennards Hire added into the customer-centric mix gelled very quickly, giving us a strong base to look for further expansion," he said.
"Culture is a key driver for Kennards Hire, and we have developed a very strong one in New Zealand. It’s our people looking after our customers that has resulted in the strong growth.”
In turn, Tom said, the culture has also enabled employees to grow with the business.
“We’ve had people move into life-changing roles and take opportunities that only exist in an expanding business.”
It’s a view echoed by Junior Moevasa, Auckland City Branch Manager and another former McEntee employee.
“To see the massive growth over the past decade is satisfying, not just financially but also because it gives our people an opportunity to grow and progress within the company.”
Rod Knutson, Auditor Trainer for Kennards Hire NZ, said the success of the first ten years is thanks to “all the hard yakka that’s been put in by so many dedicated, enthusiastic staff members”.
Rod said he’s watched many young – and not so young – staff come into the business with little to no experience.
“Seeing these people taken under a senior team member’s wing and be mentored and trained to become the best they can be is really inspiring.”
Rory said the Kennards Hire value of One Family rings true.
“We have each other’s backs. We're like brothers in arms. We lift each other up when we need help to keep moving forward.”
Building strong relationships with suppliers
It’s not just staff who have grown with the company, local suppliers and contractors have been able to grow as well.
KW Roadhaul does cartage for all the Auckland branches, delivering equipment to work sites and service departments and picking up equipment from suppliers.
“I’m very proud of the fact that we work for a company with such a good reputation," said owner Kevin Williams.
"They’ve got a good culture. They are very loyal to their suppliers. You’ve also got to perform, which is fair enough.”
A side benefit is that many of Kennards Hire’s clients have become clients of KW Roadhaul as well.
“I joke with them that your prosperity is my prosperity!’”
What does the future hold?
As Kennards Hire embarks on its second decade in New Zealand, what's next?
Tom Kimber says Kennards Hire has always talked about not being the biggest hire company in the world, but the best.
"This is true for our NZ network also. It's not about having dots on a map, but being strategic in how we grow so we stay relevant to our loyal customer base," he said.
"We still have plenty more options to grow, not only geographically, but also in the depth of services we offer."
Rod Knutson said the company is well placed to continue expanding in the future.
“I often get asked ‘When are you guys coming to our region?’ To me, that’s an indication that our brand is out there and one that can be trusted.”