Andre Hofer, director of Cutshop New Zealand, talks on-demand factories for tradies and getting new people into the business.
What does your business do?
Cutshop is a supplier of ready-to-assemble cabinetry to the kitchen and shop-fitting trade. We're a contracting cutting and edging service for people that want to do some of their own work. The business started as a DIY focus in September 2009 in Mount Wellington and became a franchise business in 2011. We don't design and don't install and that means we're able to safeguard tradies so they can do their business and we can do ours, we're like a factory in a tradies' pocket.
What was the motivation for starting the business?
The idea for Cutshop came about when the original owner wanted to renovate his family kitchen but couldn't find anyone to help him cut exactly what he wanted. He spotted a need for a contract cutting service to support the trades who wanted sheet material cut, edged and drilled for products they produce, like kitchens, cabinets and shelves.
The motivation was to turn the conventional way of producing ready-to-assemble cabinetry upside down. Instead of the usual approach for a kitchen maker or joiner to have all the machinery, a factory/workshop and people, Cutshop provides all this, as a service.
When and why did you decide to get involved with Cutshop?
I came on board as a New Zealand franchiser in 2015. I was doing contracting work for the founder Simon Morton and decided to join him with my own business. I bought the rights from Cutshop New Zealand and haven't looked back. Simon owns the international franchise's intellectual property and I own the New Zealand part.
How big is your team?
Cutshop is a franchise network of three factories. We have 18 people working across in three sites in Albany and Mount Wellington and Te Rapa, Hamilton.
What products do you make?
We provide precisely cut, edged and drilled ready-to-assemble flat sheet material used in construction of a wide variety of products including kitchens, wardrobes, cupboards and shelves, all the cabinetry that is in those spaces.
How much competition are you facing in this industry?
It depends how we look at it. Do we have competition in the kitchen industry? Yes, there are huge companies out there, all they do is the kitchens and the counter tops. But if you look at it from what else we do, for all the types of other people, then the only real competition we have is from other joinerys but because they don't necessarily address the diversity of projects we do, they're not really competitors. We're carving out our own space and we're trying to keep it like that.
What are your long-term plans?
To grow our franchise network in New Zealand and Australia. We are in the process of finding more franchisers, I have a number of people that are interested. It takes about six months from once you get a lead to actually put that into a proper franchiser or franchisee. The machinery we import comes from Germany and the US and takes six months to arrive. Once we have another two or three franchisers on board, our idea is to take the business to Australia.
What advice do you give to others thinking of starting their own business?
Stay very focused, be ambitious, establish a brand and believe in it. Closely manage your channel to market, be analytical, ask questions, listen, learn and have fun.