Su­per­store stands strong

Matamata Chronicle - - Celebrating 90 Years Of Service To The Matamata Di -

Did Dun­can Water­son doubt him­self when he made the call to build a su­per­store on a site out­side the cen­tral busi­ness area? “Heaps...!” he says, with­out hes­i­ta­tion. Back when the su­per store was be­ing planned prior to its open­ing in 2000, his mates told him he was mad to lum­ber him­self with such an undertaking when he could be off over­seas do­ing his own thing, with­out a worry in the world.

But the Di­rec­tors of Water­son’s at that time – his fa­ther Graeme Water­son, Doreen Water­son (widow of the late Ken, af­fec­tion­ately known as Doc) Jan Hill (nee Water­son) and Dun­can Water­son (Aus­tralia, Graeme and Jan’s brother) put their faith in the young fel­low.

Dun­can ar­rived back from his OE in 1994, a trades­man car­pen­ter, with ab­so­lutely no thought of “tak­ing over” the fam­ily firm. In fact, he first took a job in real es­tate with what was Waikato Realty at the time. He still has no thought of a takeover.

What he did was look at the re­tail arm of the old fam­ily firm of D Water­son and Co Ltd and re­alised that to sur­vive, it had to com­pete in what was “to­day’s mar­ket” so the busi­ness had to be re­struc­tured and ex­panded.

That was a good ap­pren­tice­ship in busi­ness prac­tices for a young bloke whose first pri­or­ity in his new job was to learn how to use a fax.

“More im­por­tantly I quickly re­alised the value of good in­ter­nal busi­ness sys­tems and the im­por­tance of fo­cus­ing on cus­tomer ser­vice.”

Dun­can val­ued work­ing with Doreen Crabb in his real es­tate days, and de­scribes her as an ideas per­son, ca­pa­ble of look­ing at things from dif­fer­ent an­gles and turn­ing a vi­sion into a re­al­ity. He learned some valu­able lessons from Doreen.

Dun­can used to lunch reg­u­larly with his mum and dad, Graeme and Fay – talk­ing shop (of course), and re­alised that Water­son’s needed some work on, rather than in it. Graeme and Jan, the com­pany’s share­hold­ing di­rec­tors, were oper­at­ing in a tough mar­ket, with fierce com­pe­ti­tion, try­ing to meet their cus­tomers’ de­mands, and soon re­alised that they needed to for­ward plan for long-term goals or face pos­si­ble clo­sure of their re­tail arm. “There was lit­tle for­ward plan­ning, no long-term goals, just sur­vival of the fittest in the mar­ket back then,” says Dun­can.

“What they were do­ing sounded good in the­ory but not so good in re­al­ity, in fact,” says Dun­can, “The way things were go­ing, sell­ing the busi­ness wasn’t an op­tion be­cause no- one would have wanted to buy a stag­nant busi­ness.”

Dur­ing this time, Dun­can was pon­der­ing a busi­ness pro­posal from a lo­cal busi­ness­man, who even­tu­ally told him it needed to be his pro­posal or the fam­ily busi­ness, and to get off the fence. “I knew noth­ing about the fur­ni­ture busi­ness but by then I knew enough to set up a good client data base.”

Dun­can had no in­ten­tion of ig­nor­ing the fam­ily tradition that had at the time been built over 78 years in Mata­mata, and pro­ceeded to ex­pand the floor space of the re­tail division. He said that the busi­ness was frag­mented, the fur­ni­ture re­tail store on Broad­way, the Bed­room Shop on Arawa Street and stor­age in Tami­hana Street.

Fay and Graeme had the fore­sight to buy the cor­ner sec­tion where the su­per store stands to­day. For many years it was the site of a doc­tor’s home and surgery. When Dun­can started in the busi­ness, it made sense to put ev­ery­thing un­der one roof. Mean­time the op­por­tu­nity had arisen to op­er­ate the Fur­ni­ture Court fran­chise in a new mega­s­tore com­plex in Tau­ranga. It was a tempt­ing thought, says Dun­can, and thor­oughly in­ves­ti­gated, but the lack of a rep­u­ta­tion and cus­tomer base made a su­per­store in Mata­mata the best op­tion.

In ex­pan­sion mode, Dun­can went look­ing at just about ev­ery fur­ni­ture re­tailer store in New Zealand, stat­ing his mis­sion to owner/op­er­a­tors and man­agers.

His search for the know-how was well re­ceived and the cor­ner store we see to­day is the re­sult of the best ideas pulled from the melt­ing pot.

Dun­can says he still did not know about fur­ni­ture but he reck­ons he knew how to run a busi­ness and look af­ter cus­tomers.

With the happy co- op­er­a­tion of his proud par­ents and ex­cited staff, Dun­can was ready to com­pete and suc­ceed.

“We had the premises, the staff, the stock, and the sys­tems – now was the time to per­form.”

To­day - Water­son’s Fur­ni­ture and Car­pet Court Su­per­store – Cor­ner Tainui & Tami­hana Streets.

Dun­can Water­son

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