Hawke's Bay builder and former The Block tradesman Josh Shanley talks running a business with his wife and why he left the construction industry for event management.
What does your business do?
Jade Promotions runs a network of home shows throughout New Zealand. We have more than 1600 exhibitors each year and over 120,000 visitors through the 11 events. Next year we will be launching for the first time our first national event which will be the NZ Home & Lifestyle show that will be at Eden Park. We currently do eight Home & Garden shows and three Better Home & Living shows each year.
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We bought the home show business off of a family in 2016, and previous to that my wife and I had a construction company in New Plymouth where we did design and build, like commercial cafe and office fit-outs. We bought the business with Emily's brother, Hamish, who is the managing director, he was working for a large corporate engineering company.
What was the motivation for buying a business?
We weren't desperate to get out of the construction industry but the timing was right and we thought it was a good opportunity to do something different. I, funnily enough, studied event management for a year out of school so it was not completely foreign. Hamish was a project manager with over 100 staff and my wife is an accountant, and we'd done all of our own marketing with the building company, so the three of us kind of covered a few bases.
How big is your team?
We took over the existing staff, there are 15 staff plus the three of us, and we hire in temporary staff for the events.
You were a builder on home renovation show The Block, for contestants Cat and Jeremy in season five, talk me through your involvement in that?
I ended up being a builder for half of the season for Cat and Jeremy, friends of mine, four years ago, it was the villa wars Mt Roskill-Sandringham villas. I was building my own house by the beach in Taranaki and I had a call one Sunday to say; 'Our builder is not going to be here next week, and we've rung 20 builders and none of them can help us out, can you come up tomorrow and be our builder for a week?'.
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I said yes, and a week turned into five weeks. I'd drive up Sunday night, drive back on Friday night, work on my house all weekend and then do it all over again. Contestants have a budget that they have to work with and sort out the pay for their tradespeople.
I've always enjoyed working under pressure so I enjoyed the work. The show opened up some other opportunities, Peter Wolfkamp who is the foreman on the block and has his own radio show on Newstalk ZB is now involved with our events in an ambassador role. He does a lot of our radio ads, Facebook videos and then comes to the events to do talks.
What are your long term plans?
We're already expanding our portfolio of home shows by running the NZ Home & Lifestyle show next year. We have some ideas around diversifying into other events, but we haven't cemented any of those at this stage. We're looking around, what's happening overseas and what potential there is to bring some of those to New Zealand. Our focus is trying to run and maximise the events that we have at the moment as well.
We've seen a lot of businesses that have been purchased in the events space change too much too quick, and that has been the downfall of the business.
What's it like running an events management business?
There's plenty of competition which is only healthy for the industry. It is fairly demanding but it is somewhat seasonal. Autumn and spring are the busy periods in terms of the events being held so we do get to have quieter periods. Especially over December, January, it switches from consumer and trade events to more festivals and markets so we get to have a good summer holiday, and in the middle of winter. Revenue comes from both ticket sales and from selling exhibition spaces which is the same for all home and consumer sales around the country.
What advice do you give to others wanting to start or buy a business?
Make sure you really understand the business. If you're buying an existing business, take time to understand it, and the industry. Don't change too much too soon, it's easy to get excited about opportunities for growth but you need to understand exactly what you are doing before you jump in and change too much too quick.