A family’s plans to take custard squares global

Posted on October 29, 2020

The Timaru-based Templeton family is building a custard square legacy, which they hope will see it become a global brand.

Denheath was originally a café, which Lisa Templeton’s parents purchased in 1996 because they loved the custard square.

Lisa’s mother Carol loved the custard square so much she believed it had potential to be sold worldwide.

In 1999, when Carol became terminally ill, husband and wife team Donald and Lisa stepped in to run the business.

The pair promised Carol they would take Denheath nationwide and international.

In 2000, it was a single product company.

“A big unique fluffy custard square, the classic Kiwi treat that started it all,” Lisa says.

It has since broadened into desserts and supplies foodservice and retail stores nationwide and exports overseas.

Its online sales have grown year after year and show no signs of slowing.

The challenge of growth

With the business continually growing and Donald and Lisa constantly looking for more opportunities, challenges arose.

“There have been many challenges in the 20-years we have run Denheath,” Lisa says.

“Our recent big challenge was getting certified with a dairy RMP so we can continue to export.

“Red tape can be crazy. Likewise export paperwork with new export customers can be extremely difficult and challenging.”

Covid-19 lockdown meant Denheath was not able to supply any foodservice customers and some retailers, some of which will not reopen.

The duo was also progressing several potential export opportunities that were halted as those overseas economies suffered via lockdowns.

The pair are thankful they’ve had support from NZTE, friends, family and custard loving followers.

Their advice for budding entrepreneurs is to seek and adopt advice as much as possible.

“Look for people who have already had some experience in the fields you are working in and ask for advice.

“Work with NZTE and any government agencies, industry organisations and local Chamber of Commerce’s. Businesses will need guidance to help grow.”

In addition, Lisa says “stay positive and back yourselves.”

Being a Kiwi company means Denheath is able to access and use ingredients of the highest quality, Lisa says.

“We are able to love what we do and work in beautiful Timaru and have a port at our door for export. New Zealand is trusted internationally and sought after.

“Also, kiwi companies are more likely to work together, collaborate and help each other along the way.”

For the Templetons, Denheath’s success is grounded in late Carol’s vision:

“My mother had a dream that Denheath and her custard squares would become nationally and internationally known and we are continually working hard to make it happen for her.

“If we were corporate enough to ever write a mission statement, achieving her dream would be it.”



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