Ross Pepper of Colourplus Waipukurau is celebrating a national win, having taken out the Dulux Colourplus Trade Store of the Year Award for service excellence at this month's awards in Auckland.

"We were up in Auckland while the SkyCity convention centre was burning down," Pepper says.

But the fire didn't distract Pepper from the job at hand - the awards evening for the Colourplus and Guthrie Bowron groups.

"We knew our figures were good, we were 300 per cent up on our budget ... we smashed that."

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He says his store became a Dulux Trade Centre two years ago "and for the last 18 months it's really been working well for us", he says.

"It helps us to give good support to the local tradespeople and also the tradies that are working in the district from out of town, like those working on the Atrium build and the big renovation of Mount Vernon in Lindsay Rd."

The trophy will sit in pride of place in the Waipukurau store.
The trophy will sit in pride of place in the Waipukurau store.

The win is also a big reflection on the growth that's happening around the CHB region, Pepper says.

"There are lots of new builds under way, and plenty of renovations happening. We have people in the shop every week asking for the contact details for tradespeople, especially to hang wallpaper, which not a lot of people can do."

He says after over a decade of "black, whites and non-descript colours", people are looking to do something a bit different, adding colour with statement walls.

It has been 34 years since he first started in business in Waipukurau, and he has been through several changes of franchise and many changes of fashion in that time.

"When we started - with Resene back then - it was all pearl lustre, hot chilli and Spanish white. Back then Dulux was the opposition ... if I've learnt anything in this business it's that your opposition one year could be your bedfellow the next. There have been so many takeovers.

"There was a pink and grey phase, there was a yellow phase ... "

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Along with changes in fashion and franchise, Pepper has had changes of location over the 34 years.

"When we started there were no empty shops in the main street. We rented half the building that is now Beaurepairs.

Then the company moved to Ruataniwha St, into one third of the building they now occupy.

Pepper was packing up the old shop for the move when a pallet-load of paint arrived for the opening sale of the new shop.

"I said 'I need that at the new premises' and I asked a customer to watch the shop while I rushed over to open the new shop for the delivery.

"I flung open the back door and the guy had tipped the pallet over and there was paint running towards me. I tried to save the rest of the load but more paint came down ... all over me."

There were more moves to come ... from that Ruataniwha St shop to the corner that's now occupied by Subway, then back to the Ruataniwha St shop which had been expanded to its current size.

"We got the award for best store upgrade for this premises in 2003," Pepper says. Other developments have been a move into curtains and blinds, and now into flooring.

"We have got into flooring now as agents for Carpet Mill. We arrange measurements and quotes and have samples here and more via a sample van. So we really are a one-stop shop: window treatments, carpet, vinyl, paint and wallpaper. We also have colour experts Bron and Mel in the shop to help with colour schemes and advice."

Pepper says he has a few ideas in mind for next year's 35th anniversary. And he has his sights set on another shot at the Dulux trophy.