Insulmax Insulation | Insulation buy a ‘no-brainer’

When Conan Mitchell bought Insulmax Insulation Otago in April last year, no hard sell was necessary.

It was a business he knew inside out; Conan was the first Insulmax employee in New Zealand when it launched here seven years ago and also helped establish the other eight – independently owned – Insulmax businesses around the country.

Insulmax retrofits insulation into walls and ceilings. Installers drill small holes and then blow mineral fibre through them into wall and ceiling cavities. It’s a product and process Conan absolutely stands by.

“When I did my house, our power bill went from $230 a month down to $110 to $115. We are now toasty warm in a house that is 100 years old.”

Insulmax Otago retrofits about 200 houses in Otago, South Canterbury, and Central Otago each year.

“Our customers often haven’t realised that this is an option for them. Once they’ve done it, they realise it’s a no-brainer.

“Ninety-five percent of our customers are happy with the outcome; the other five percent simply don’t heat their homes enough to get the benefits of insulation.”

It’s not a business designed for repeat customers – Insulmax is a one-off fix – but Conan does get clients returning.

“We have customers who have sold their houses and then gone and bought an old one because they know we can insulate it for them. They can still have their lovely, old villa and be warm.”

He’s also proud of the product’s environmental credentials. The mineral fibre is 84 percent recycled glass and is mixed with silicone oil to ensure it doesn’t absorb moisture.

The ‘keyhole’ method of installation eliminates waste, as wall and ceiling materials are not ripped out and disposed of.  It’s also a far more efficient option than renovating, Conan says.

“We can do in a day what might take builders three to six months to do.”

The three-person team is entering its busy time of year – sales rise as temperatures drop – and Conan plans to hire a casual employee to help meet demand.

Keeping an eye on the accounts will be Moore Markhams Otago Associate Paula McKay; Conan signed up with the accountancy and business advisory firm when he bought the business last year, and it’s been a great move, he says.

“Moore Markhams was recommended by a friend and did the valuation on the business before I purchased it, so were familiar with it from the beginning.

“They have been very helpful. Paula has been absolutely amazing and really keeps on top of what we’re doing, so we always know where we’re at with our finances and we’re always prepared.”

Moore Markhams helped Insulmax Otago migrate to Xero accounting software, which has streamlined its accounts management and integrates with its existing, purpose-built customer relationship management system.

Conan, who travels regularly to visit customers, turned to Paula for advice on buying a new car through the business.

“It was great to have her as a sounding board and to work through the implications of that decision. If we have any questions, it’s very simple; we just flick an email off.”

Insulmax Otago experienced an upswing in demand as Kiwis unable to travel due to Covid instead spent money on improving their homes. That extra activity has dropped off; with people now more concerned about the economy, interest rates and as banks are tightening up on lending.

However, there is a stable and underlying demand for insulation, Conan says, with consumers now more aware of its benefits, and the options that are available.

“We have noticed over the last five years that people have realised how much insulation improves their living and their lifestyle and their comfort. It keeps costs down.

“People are starting to be really conscious about making sure their homes are healthier – but there’s still a long way to go.”