Larsen Collision Repairs

Business growth no accident for this team

  • Larsens

    The award winning team at Larsen Collision Repairs. From left: Steve Loney, Dean Jones, Gary Reid, Mike Dibben, Nathan Cleveland, Heather Knofflock, Melissa and Aaron Hogg.

With sheer hard work and a positive attitude, Aaron and Melissa Hogg have achieved success well beyond their expectations.

In 2008, Aaron and Melissa bought Larsen Collision Repairs in Wanganui. Within three years of owning the business, they had moved into larger premises, creating an ultra-modern panel and paint shop.

Aaron’s connection with the business dates back 25 years to when he served his panelbeating apprenticeship with then owner, Lynn Larsen. It was while working for Lynn that Aaron learnt the mechanics of running a panelbeating business, both from the workshop floor and the office.

“In the last ten years the panelbeating industry has undergone a lot of change and computers were becoming integral,” says Melissa. “Aaron had the computer skills Lynn needed and so he naturally progressed into the office, learning the intricacies of running the business, so it worked out well when the opportunity to buy the business arose.”

For the first year of owning the business, Melissa and Aaron worked on refining their systems and staffing, made easier by the fact Aaron had worked with the team for a number of years. His relationships with the insurance companies were also strong.

“Insurance jobs are the ‘bread and butter’ of the collision repair business and relationships are key. Aaron had excellent relationships in place and his honesty and integrity are well known. It made the transition to business ownership very easy,” says Melissa.

Achieving gold repair status for one of the insurance companies was a turning point for the Larsen business. Recommendations bought them more work and turnover increased steadily. Soon staff numbers slowly increased going from a team of five in 2008 to a team of now nine.

“We spent a lot of time forward planning and ensuring we had plenty of work booked. We gave the business our all. We always made sure we had funds set aside for tax and paid off loans as quickly as possible, which gave us a solid financial history. This enabled us to make the big leap when the opportunity came.”

Within a few years, the Hoggs realised that to keep growing the business they needed a paint shop in order to offer a full service. “Offering the complete service was preferred by the insurance companies. It was at that time that the paint shop we were using changed hands, providing the catalyst for setting up our own. Having our own facility means we have more control over the process from start to finish,” says Melissa.

When a site came up for sale in Taupo Quay, they jumped. In March 2011, renovations began that included a two storey office extension and new paintshop; they moved in three months later.

The relationship with Markhams Wanganui began when the Hoggs first purchased the business. “Warwyck Dewe was Lynn’s accountant and as such, was very involved in the sale. As he already knew the business and the industry inside out, it made sense to continue the relationship,” says Melissa.

Warwyck completes the annual accounts and provides financial advice. The couple enjoy a very positive relationship with him and the other staff at Markhams.

“Markhams are great – professional and very encouraging. With their help, we are growing the business steadily, even in this tough economic climate.”

Next on the Hoggs’ ‘to do list’ is implementing a new software system and creating a website. Melissa admits “there’s plenty to do”, but with the big purchases now done, it’s time to consolidate and plan to ensure the new facility will be used to its full capacity.

Published Autumn 2012

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