It’s a familiar story in New Zealand: honey business achieves global success with its liquid gold.
However, few appreciate the sheer determination that goes into making a honey business float.
What sets Kai Ora Honey apart is staying true to its Māori values and its focus on connections.
“Real connections do not change in crisis,” chief executive Blanche Morrogh says.
New Zealand’s $49 million honey export market was not immune to the threat of Covid-19 as supply chains and logistics faced significant disruption. Fortunately for the sector, demand for natural food products increased through the period.
Despite the uncertainty, Kai Ora is holding true to its Tikanga Māori values, instilled in Morrogh through her father, who introduced her to beekeeping and the fast-growing Manuka honey industry.
“As a Māori family living in a rural community honey was a realistic opportunity for us.
“Our Māori Culture sets us apart and gives a deep connection in today global markets.”
The business sells about 40% of its products locally and 60% overseas.
While it has seen a steady growth in export demand, domestically, it had been supplying mainly tourist-based locations, so its domestic revenue stream is 90% down on same time last year.
Despite this, Morrogh says its ability to be adaptable and pivot to deliver a diverse range of products from the hive have added value to the business.
Kai Ora has made significant investments recently like creating a natural skincare range, natural sanitiser range and wellness products from the hive.
While these investments are having a high cash burn rate, she expects it to bring significant return soon.
Morrogh says the biggest challenges Kai Ora has faced has been in terms of its structure and investment.
“Taking on investment is difficult without having to manage family. We found once we took away the emotion, culture and heritage links and access who is right for each role – not ‘you have a role because your family’ – we began to fly.”
Morrogh says businesses should think hard about who they partner with.
Kai Ora had support from the Māori Investment Fund and NZTE’s Market Validation Fund. In addition, Poutama has been Kai Ora’s biggest supporter to date not only financially investing in the business, but also investing into its networks to collaborate and expand opportunities for export.
“If you take on investment make sure your values and goals align – especially if you succeed at an exponential rate, success can change perspectives.
“But most importantly, make sure you build an authentic business and good core values that are relative to your product or service.”
She says being a Māori business has had significant advantages.
“Without these cultural principles our authentic and trusted position would be compromised.”
After winning the 2017 Young Māori Business Leader Award, Blanche Morrogh told the crowd, “relationships lead to success, no matter how technical or automated this world becomes, opportunities come through people.”
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.”
Making News That Kiwi’s Can Trust
Pattrick Smellie is co-founder of BusinessDesk and in this 180 degree interview reversal, Ryan gets to interview a journalist on how BusinessDesk got started, getting your business into the news, why post election every business will need a trusted source on news for policy impacts and how to get into becoming a news journalist.
Listen To Pattrick Smellie Interview on A Kiwi Original Podcast
Why NZ Made News Matters
In this wide ranging interview, we cover the belief BusinessDesk had when setting up, that traditional news publishers doing news for free wasn’t a path for BusinessDesk, how businesses can get in to the news (or stay out of the news!) and why it can be better to tell your story than keep it under wraps. Pattrick also shares why businesses wanting coverage should be willing to take risks, to say things that are real when talking with journalists and be prepared to invest in building relationships with journalists.
Watch Pattrick Smellie Interview on A Kiwi Original YouTube
Nearly 1000 New Zealand owned and operated businesses have signed up to a new online shopping mall to take advantage of changing consumer behaviour during the coronavirus crisis.
Shopkiwi.online launched on Wednesday, with the backing of Business NZ and BuyNZ Made.
Fashion designer Liz Mitchell is one of the business owners who have signed up.
During the lockdown her Auckland shop was closed, and bespoke designs stopped, but she saw an opportunity to expand into e-commerce to reach new customers.
A new Web site, has been launched to make it easier for New Zealanders to buy products from locally owned businesses to help them recover from the severe disruption caused by Covid 19 and the restrictions of level four and three, which will help and which will in turn help keep Kiwis employed. Joining us now with more information about the initiative, including the all important to URL is ShopKiwi manager Dion Ambler from Business New Zealand.
Good morning. Nice. Nice to thank you. Thank you very much for having me.
Lovely to have you on the show.
Now tell us about the website that you’ve launched and how it’s helping businesses. So ShopKiwi is basically a website and campaign to help retailers and manufacturers go out to their clients. Obviously, it’s about helping them in terms of their visibility. They’ve had a pretty hard time over the last few weeks. So I think, you know, they can use all the help that they can get.
So is the majority of the business that are on the website are New Zealand Made. Right?
The products, So they’re not just New Zealand Made. We saw a wee gap on what was being offered and there’s a lot of focus lately on New Zealand Made products, but we realized a lot of companies actually import their products and they you know, they make the same contribution to the economy and employ the same amount of people and things like that. So basically, we’ve got a whole range of companies on there. There’s about 20 categories. We’ve got everything from a company in Wanganui that grows hemp and sells hemp related products through to a company in Tasman that sells tuxedos for dogs.
I’ve been on the website and yeah, pretty much it’s a one stop shop for all those. Very, very impressive.
Yeah. So in terms of businesses being on this website, what are the benefits?
So the benefit is mainly visibility. So a lot of these companies have obviously had their doors closed for quite some time, haven’t had the same cash flow, but have had the same the overheads and things like that. So we heard quite early on the Finance Minister saying that the government will be able to support and help some businesses but not all of them. So some businesses, this is a matter of life and death. You know, some of them are not going to make it. We’ve seen a range of practical measures taken by the government so far. And it was great to see that the wage subsidy extended last week. But ultimately, what these businesses really need is foot traffic or online traffic and money going through the tills. Is there a criteria for businesses being on the website. No, no, there’s no criteria. So any New Zealand owned and operated business can sign up. And it’s so easy. You know, we’ve got a form that’s halfway down the main page. They fill it in and we go to their website, grab a picture and by the end of the day, they’ll be on the website.
The reality is, as you mentioned it earlier, is that many businesses are not going to survive beyond the government’s wage subsidy. So now is the time to start thinking about how to create new ways of thinking about new ideas for how you can market your business right. Or how you can sell the product.
Yeah, that’s right. And I think a lot of companies, you know, have have been hit with a stark reality and they’re going to have to reassess how they operate and I guess around supply chains and things like that as well. You know, a lot of companies rely on overseas manufacturing. So there’s probably going to be quite a big shift in terms of companies bringing manufacturing closer to home. So, yeah, it is a big, big wake up call. And obviously we’re just doing what we can to help them help them out.
In the notes you talked about ’embracing the weird’ about your own business and actually just leaning into it as opposed to being afraid of that.
Yeah so the ShopKiwi campaign is being spun out of the Buy New Zealand Made Campaign which is run by Ryan Jennings. And this is sort of his brainchild. So, yeah, he’s making a big push for Kiwi companies to ’embrace their weird’, and we’ve got a incredible diversity and creative culture in this country. And you can just see that from all the companies that are on the ShopKiwi website.
Well, the reality is we have to start doing things differently, don’t we? Dane Ambler Manager for ShopKiwi. Oh, no. Before we go, what’s the website again?
ShopKiwi.online Dane Ambler Manager for ShopKiwi. Thank you so much for your time this morning. I really appreciate it. Thanks for having me. See you later.
I like the idea of embracing your difference and ’embracing your weird’. Yeah. Because we’ve been afraid to do that to stand out to be different. Yeah.
And also we’ve gone through a period of mass. So sort of ubiquity. Right. So Amazon.. shopping malls, fluoro lights. There’s a kind of sameness attached to all of that, whereas if you want to stand out. Maybe now’s the time to do it, because people are shopping online alot. Right.
A new campaign has been launched to help New Zealand businesses recover from the severe impacts of the COVID-19 lockdown.
The Government announced on Monday that the country’s level 4 lockdown would be extended until 11:59pm on Monday when it would be downgraded to level 3 for two weeks.
Currently, only essential businesses are allowed to operate but at the lower alert level, any business deemed “safe” will be allowed to reopen – provided all face-to-face contact is avoided. Delivering online shopping to customers will now also be allowed.
To help some of those businesses and retailers get back off the ground, a campaign called #shopkiwi has been started, allowing New Zealand companies to sell products directly to consumers online.