Six years ago, and at just 24 years old, Rick Fourie's dream of owning and operating an early childhood centre (ECE) was just beginning.
Today the 30-year-old Waikato man is founder and managing director of Creators Educational Trust, a not-for-profit organisation which boasts roughly 600 children and 60 staff in centres and home-based childcare programmes across the country.
Such swift growth in just a few short years spurred by someone so young is rare in the New Zealand early childhood industry. And plans for growth are only accelerating, not slowing.
The concrete foundation for another Creators centre in Hamilton's Rutherford St is being laid this week. Doors are expected to open midyear, bringing the total number of centres in the Waikato region to four.
At capacity, Creators on Rutherford Street will be licensed for 80 children, have about 14 teaching staff and offer the government's 20 hours ECE subsidy.
According to Rick, the Rutherford Street Centre is not the only growth on the organisation's 2016 calendar.
"We have budding plans to open more centres, home based education programmes, and parenting programmes across New Zealand," he said.
In September last year Creators acquired nationwide home-based education organisation Footsteps, a move that strengthened the opportunity for the Creators brand to spread widely throughout New Zealand.
"With this acquisition in mind, Creators will have four components going forward: our centres, our existing home-based childcare programme Creators at Home, which was launched in 2013, Footsteps, which will gradually be rebranded as Creators Awhi and an associated Creators Parenting Programme.
"We aim to bring these four components to key regions throughout New Zealand this year."
Rick says the organisation's not-for profit status is a key point of difference for Creators.
"We are founded on the strong belief that education should be community-owned. So we invest all our funds back into the children rather than distributing profits out to shareholders," he said.
Having discovered his passion for early childhood while working as a youth pastor in a Hamilton church, it's unsurprising that Creators is also underpinned by a strong Christian values-system.
"As a key part of this values system, we focus especially on teaching our children to be grounded in empathy and compassion. Basically, if we can help provide a loving environment for kids under five and teach them to replicate that, then these kids will, without a doubt, grow to make a positive impact on society.
Rick says six years ago he never dreamed Creators would be so large.
"For me, starting Creators was about connecting with the local community and having a go at doing something unique at that made a difference.
"We have a fantastic team that have helped us grow to this point.
"We're very pleased to be bringing an innovative childcare centre to Rutherford Street, and look forward to further growth across New Zealand this year and beyond."
Rick said the Rutherford Street centre will adhere to the 'Reggio approach' to education.
"In basic terms, this approach says that children are driven by their interests and are capable of constructing their own learning. The new building's unique design features will encourage a high level of collaboration, communication and exploration."