Successful company marries old with new
Since taking over Alpine Joinery two years ago, new owners Dan and Julie Gordon have been surprised by the stellar success of the now transformed Dunedin business.
With a pleasing increase in turnover since they bought the business in November 2015, Julie says she is “silently blown away” with how well it has done.
Their story is somewhat unconventional and Julie admits their success so far has nothing to do with vast industry training or experience: the couple were dairy farming before Julie stumbled upon an advertisement for the joinery business while looking for a car.
“This business came up on Trademe. We came and had a look at it and put an offer in and bought it,” Julie says.
While it is difficult to initially draw any connection between milking cows and manufacturing joinery and furniture, it turns out Dan, who had been dairy farming for 18 years, had a penchant for furniture-making in his spare time.
While the Gordons, who have three children aged 10 to 13, were looking for a change, a personal disaster also became a significant catalyst.
“We lost our home in a house fire, so we decided it was time to move on. We figured that if you worked hard and could run a dairy business then you could run any business.You are just producing a different product.”
Julie initially ran the joinery business for eight months until the farm changed hands on June 1 2016.
The existing two staff, qualified joiners with a wealth of traditional trade skills, were very patient and helpful as Julie learnt the nuts and bolts of running the 37-year-old business, which was in much need of modernising. A third qualified joiner was subsequently added to the team.
As well as learning the ropes, the initial focus was on building up Alpine Joinery’s reputation and profile through a newly established website and Facebook, plus installing a new showroom in its Kaikorai Valley Road premises.
The Otago Home Show held in November last year was a huge turning point. Alpine Joinery’s display featured a contemporary kitchen with bamboo cupboards, a bamboo bench top and dark grey cabinetry.
The kitchen drew much interest from show-goers including people from Central Otago.
As well as being a great alternative to traditional timbers, bamboo is durable, renewable and matches well with many other joinery options, Julie says.
“That [show] produced a big increase in sales for Alpine. We got an amazing response.”
The transformation of Alpine Joinery has resulted in a business that is a marriage of old and new with services including Dan’s baby, furniture-making, as well as kitchens, bathrooms, windows, doors and wardrobes, plus a variety of commercial work.
The trade skills of its staff mean they have the ability to bespoke manufacture sash timber windows.
While Julie does not come from a joinery background, she has business experience and has completed a design course.
Her role in the business covers design and consulting while Dan, who has the official title of “the boy” in the workshop, works in design and quoting as well as furniture-making.
The Gordons are looking to continue building on the success of the business while being acutely aware that it can only be achieved with the support of staff and clients.
“We’ve got very loyal clientele who provide good repeat business, and we’ve got a very good word-of-mouth business because of those clients. We are really fortunate.”