At the end of 2014 Karil Te Riini and partner Ben Hunt enrolled their business, Hunt Contractors, in Kawerau Enterprise Agency’s Incubate X programme with seven others.

The course was designed to support small companies to develop their business capabilities through mentoring and training sessions.

She said some participants came with just ideas, others were beginning to launch companies and some were already established.

After the programme’s success last year a second course launched in February with 13 new participants.

While Mr Hunt ran the hands-on side of the couple’s tree-felling business Miss Te Riini managed the business and took part in the Incubate course.

Their five employees previously worked together and Hunt Contractors took them on in 2011 and focused on “thinning to waste”.

“The work was still there. To ensure these guys still had employment I started a company and approached the forestry managers to see if we could continue,” Ms Te Riini said.

Nearly five years on she said the business was doing well and more opportunities were being offered in different areas, including short-term fire watching for forestry companies.

Miss Te Riini began working with land trusts and other forestry contractors to better manage the trusts’ resources and create employment.

“I needed help if I was going to move this little company to the next level and that’s why I went into the Incubate programme.”

She saw the programme advertised and made an online application.

“It was helpful to broaden my knowledge of all the aspects of managing a business, including marketing essentials, online branding, website design and sales strategies,” she said.

“The biggest thing I learnt was the importance of a sales and marketing plan. I didn’t realise how important it was for our little company.”

Once the programme finished she began investigating the creation of a website and other marketing strategies.

But she felt she could continue to build on her new skills.

“I knew some of the changes I needed to make – but if I was going to implement them and make it work I was still going to need help.”

KEA was advertising a Rotorua-based growth acceleration programme and she was selected as one of two Kawerau businesses to take part in the 10-week course.

She said that was another step up.

“We still have a lot of work ahead and it’s motivating to be in a room with other businesses trying to do their best as well.”

 

Source: Whakatane Beacon