CEN­TRES OF AT­TEN­TION

ES­TAB­LISH IS A LEAD­ING PROVIDER OF DE­VEL­OP­MENT SER­VICES FOR THE EARLY CHILD­CARE ED­U­CA­TION SEC­TOR – UNIQUE IN ITS FIELD AND HIGHLY RE­SPECTED. WHICH IS WHY IT HAS WON SO MANY AWARDS.

NZ Business - - CONTENTS - BY A NNIE G R AY

Es­tab­lish is an award-win­ning provider of de­vel­op­ment ser­vices for the early child­care ed­u­ca­tion sec­tor – unique in its field and highly re­spected.

You have to be some­thing of an over­achiever to win six busi­ness awards only 18 months after start­ing a busi­ness. But that is just what Lo­gan Whitelaw and Paul Rodgers have ac­com­plished with the busi­ness they set up in April 2016 – pro­vid­ing com­pre­hen­sive de­vel­op­ment ser­vices for the early child­care sec­tor.

In 2017 their busi­ness, Es­tab­lish, won a to­tal of six gongs in the West­pac Busi­ness Awards (North); the David Awards; the Prop­erty In­sti­tute’s awards and the De­sign­ers In­sti­tute awards.

Lo­gan says the slew of awards so early in the busi­ness’ life is tes­ta­ment to hav­ing had a pre­vi­ous busi­ness be­fore. “So we know what not to do.”

A qual­i­fied town plan­ner, Lo­gan started his ear­lier busi­ness in 2011 and by the time he wound it down had about eight peo­ple work­ing with him.

“We were do­ing the same as ev­ery­one else, and didn’t have a point of dif­fer­ence.”

As a plan­ning con­sul­tancy they were charg­ing by the hour which, he says now, is not the best busi­ness model and he learned that the hard way.

“Lessons were learned and we have now cre­ated a busi­ness we wanted to cre­ate.”

The dif­fer­ence is that his new com­pany has a prod­uct to mar­ket rather than just sell­ing hours.

Es­tab­lish de­scribes it­self as the in­dus­try leader in pro­vid­ing de­vel­op­ment ser­vices for the early child­care ed­u­ca­tion (ECE) sec­tor – help­ing those wish­ing to set up a child­care cen­tre with find­ing a site, due-diligence, re­source con­sent­ing and com­plete child­care de­vel­op­ments.

Child­care cen­tres are com­plex de­vel­op­ments and re­quire spe­cial­ist knowl­edge around dis­trict plans, Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion re­quire­ments and health and safety reg­u­la­tions around chil­dren.

Ul­ti­mately, says Lo­gan, the de­vel­op­ment is a place where par­ents are send­ing their most pre­cious thing, i.e. their child.

Most of the team at Es­tab­lish have chil­dren and the ques­tion they ask of any de­vel­op­ment they are in­volved in is whether they would send their own kids there.

Lo­gan and Paul are grow­ing the busi­ness in four stages which are ex­pected to be com­pleted within the next five years.

Stage one was look­ing after re­sources con­sents and fea­si­bil­ity stud­ies within the sec­tor and work­ing to op­ti­mise ex­ist­ing cen­tres.

Stage two, which launched to­ward the end of 2017, is the build­ing con­sent side of build­ing an ECE cen­tre. Ev­ery cen­tre needs a re­source con­sent and a build­ing con­sent. Their cus­tomers were us­ing them for re­source con­sent work but at the build­ing con­sent stage Es­tab­lish was hand­ing the client onto some­one else. They will now look after this part of the process as well.

The next three stages are still con­fi­den­tial but Lo­gan says they

will be mov­ing deeper into the de­liv­ery of phys­i­cal as­sets in a ma­jor way in 2018.

NICHE FO­CUS

Es­tab­lish is the only spe­cialised plan­ning busi­ness in the ECE sec­tor, which is rel­a­tively small with about 130 new cen­tres built a year. Of those about 40 are home-based which means 90 or so new cen­tres are be­ing de­vel­oped an­nu­ally. By March 31, 2018 Lo­gan ex­pects they will have worked on 60 to 70 of the new cen­tres around the coun­try.

The com­pany has turned a profit from day one and been cash­flow funded from the start. So how did they spot the gap in the mar­ket? Es­sen­tially, he says, their cus­tomers built their busi­ness for them. “All we had to do was take on what they wanted us to do.”

In his ear­lier plan­ning com­pany they had been work­ing with a few cen­tres but there was real in­con­sis­tency with the way coun­cils would process ap­pli­ca­tions.

“Cus­tomers came to us and said 'we have got is­sues, can’t you just put it through coun­cil for us?'”

The coun­cil no­ti­fi­ca­tion rate for ECE cen­tres is one in four, mean­ing there will be a no­ti­fied hear­ing which can slow ev­ery­thing down by six months and cost many, many thou­sands of dol­lars.

Es­tab­lish can lay claim to hav­ing only one in 20 of its clients’ plans no­ti­fied.

The com­pany has a ‘key ac­count’ with Auck­land Coun­cil, mean­ing they get ac­cess to se­nior plan­ners who know the com­pany is ex­pe­ri­enced in the sec­tor and de­liv­ers on the re­quire­ments needed for ECE de­vel­op­ments.

While this sta­tus is usu­ally re­served for big play­ers in­volved with build­ings worth more than $20 mil­lion, Lo­gan says Es­tab­lish was able to show the coun­cil that last year it was in­volved in work that amounted to $51 mil­lion in terms of built as­sets.

CUS­TOM-BUILT

The cen­tres are cus­tom-built and “quite beau­ti­ful”, Lo­gan says. Es­tab­lish works closely with a num­ber of ar­chi­tects, some at the very high end and oth­ers where cus­tomers re­ceive more per square foot for their dol­lars. He says they can as­sess quickly if a de­sign will work for their cus­tomers.

Asked about the strengths of the com­pany Lo­gan says they take a re­ally com­plex process, sim­plify it and take that com­plex­ity away for the own­ers to al­low them to fo­cus on build­ing their busi­ness.

Another strength is the team of peo­ple they have put in place with huge ex­pe­ri­ence in the coun­cil plan­ning and in­spec­torate pro­cesses.

Es­tab­lish has also cre­ated a strong ad­vi­sory team. It works with Deloitte Pri­vate which part­ners as vir­tual CFO and has weekly con­tact with the ad­vi­sory team there. They also have an ex­pe­ri­enced pro­fes­sional di­rec­tor, Paul Trot­ter, as a coach/men­tor who is their lead ad­vi­sor on ideas and strate­gies.

Lo­gan says this strong ad­vi­sory team brings another el­e­ment of pro­fes­sion­al­ism and ac­count­abil­ity to the com­pany as well as pro­vid­ing a sound­ing board.

As to the fu­ture, in time they will look at off­shore mar­kets and he be­lieves their busi­ness model can be taken else­where al­though ob­vi­ously dif­fer­ent ju­ris­dic­tions will have dif­fer­ent com­pli­ance re­quire­ments.

They have searched around to see whether any in­ter­na­tional busi­nesses are un­der­tak­ing the same type of work and so far haven’t found any­one that is do­ing so.

“The good thing is New Zealand’s top end ECE cen­tres re­ally are world lead­ing.

“Our av­er­age is prob­a­bly pretty av­er­age, but at the top it is world-lead­ing.”

THE ES­TAB­LISH TEAM AT THE 2017 WEST­PAC AUCK­LAND NORTH BUSI­NESS AWARDS. L-R: GER­ARD MCCARTEN, GARETH PASFIELD, LIANA COLE­MAN, PAUL RODGERS, CHAR­LOTTE CLARE, LO­GAN WHITELAW.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.