McDonald Equipment

Building relationships fundamental for successful business

  • McDonald Equipment

    Avon and Vicki McDonald's engineering supplies business is in the heart of Wanganui.

McDonald Equipment opened its doors for business in 1990, selling engineering supplies including fastening, welding and industrial transmission products. The first dollar owners Avon and Vicki McDonald ever earned is proudly framed on Avon’s office wall.

“We literally started with nothing. It was a risk, but two years in, the business started taking off and 24 years later, here we are with a successful company that we are very proud of,” Avon says.

When asked what has attributed to the growth of McDonald Equipment, Avon has simple answer.

“People drive our business. Of course you have to have the right products, information and service, but it’s the power of relationships that grows a business like ours. Never underestimate the power of people. Especially in the provinces, relationships are the lifeline of our business, whether it’s with customers, suppliers, accountants or bankers. People can always buy a product somewhere else; it’s the personal service and attention that makes the difference,” he explains.

During the mid-1990s, the business grew rapidly, boosted by McDonald Equipment joining the newly created TradeZone Industrial Group, as a founding member in 1998. “Being part of TradeZone gave us the ability to compete with the bigger corporate businesses through group purchasing and nationwide marketing campaigns whilst retaining our own identity and remaining owner-operators. It contributed to a major period of growth that has continued to this day,” explains Avon.

Staff numbers have increased from two to twelve, with Avon and Vicki’s eldest son Bradley now part of the team. Two travelling sales reps cover the Wanganui, Ruapehu, Manawatu and South Taranaki areas.

Avon runs a lean business model that has efficiency at its core. “We look for the most efficient way of doing things. As an example, our reps all carry iPads now, meaning they can easily place orders directly from customers. We can have an order placed at 11am in Wanganui and have it delivered in Dannevirke by 3.30pm. We have worked hard on finding the most efficient solutions for our customers and suppliers.”

The relationship with Moore Stephens Markhams is also an important one for the McDonalds and spans more than three decades, when Avon first met former director Stuart Wright to discuss setting up the business. “He had faith in what we were doing. Having sound advice from him and more latterly the firm’s Principal Nicola Gibbons has been a huge part of our success.”

“Nicola has been absolutely wonderful and she is an important part of our business. Her advice is so important to us in so many ways and she is involved in all the major decisions that impact on us.”

In 2008, Avon and Vicki implemented a new management structure with the appointment of an Operations Manager and a Purchasing and Inventory Control Manager. Moore Stephens Markhams was involved in designing the new management roles and assisted with developing the job descriptions. “It was really important for us to have their input with these major decisions,” says Avon.

On a regular basis, the McDonalds and Nicola meet to run reports to analyse each month’s performance against budgets. “Nicola has a good understanding of how we work and this can only come about by us incorporating her into our business. It’s a great relationship that works well.”

Published Summer 2014.

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