Levin man Garry Anderson came close to closing the doors to a popular outdoor machinery business when New Zealand went into Covid-19 lockdown more than three months ago.
Now, he's glad he hung in there.
Garry, the owner-operator of Andersons Outdoor Machinery in Hokio Beach Road, made an inspired decision to reopen the store and machinery service hub once lockdown restrictions eased, despite not knowing if it would survive.
"The loss of income over the lockdown period was significant as this period is normally one of our busiest. I did toss up whether to reopen given the uncertainty around Covid-19 at the time."
"It was a lot of money to make up and with having health issues over the past couple of years, I was uncertain whether I would have the physical ability to face the new challenges," he said.
As it was, the lockdown forced him to let one valued member of staff go, although he worked hard to ensure the remaining team of four could keep going.
"That was the hardest thing...he was a really nice guy. But we were forced to restructure as a result of what was happening," he said.
On their return to work, the team were pleasantly surprised to find a busy workshop with lawnmowers and other outdoor machinery tools queuing for maintenance work, while there was also a surge in sales of new machinery.
"It was better than we could have anticipated...the staff have all stepped up to the challenges of the restructured business and the public have been awesome. Things are really humming," he said.
"People have said to us that they normally go out of town but now want to shop locally. We have noticed it. There have been people we haven't seen before come in and say they want to support local business."
'No one ever thanked us for doing our jobs'
Garry has taken a leap of faith before when he first bought the existing business from its founder Tony Wallace 14 years ago.
"He was brilliant. He used to come in regularly and give us a hand or just have a chat. He was a very good mechanic and taught me everything I know about small engine mechanics. We really miss him. He was a great guy. " he said.
Technology is constantly evolving, and Garry said it was important to move with the times.
He has invested in new electronic diagnostic tools and technology which helps to do the job quicker.
A change of philosophy was also required in the workshop. Cheaply priced machinery bought online or through large retail outlets, in most cases, proved uneconomical to repair with the money better spent on a new machine.
"It's a hard concept for the customers to grasp sometimes because you think everything is relative to the purchase price, but it's not. When it needs fixing, more often they cost more to fix than the higher quality machines."
"As a result of volumes now being sold, the price of ride-on mowers is very good these days. Husqvarna supplies us with a large range of machines which is complemented by specialist machines from Gianni Ferrari, Masport and Grillo. This enables us to ensure the right mower is sold to the customer to match their property profile and the customer's budget".
"The demand for Robotic Lawn Mowers has skyrocketed in the last couple of years and with Husqvarna having been in the industry for many years, they have a good track record to work with and clearly, as a dealer, I am aware they have a real focus in this area."
"It's huge. It has the potential to be the biggest area of growth in our industry," he said.
"They do an amazing job. The lawns look perfect. You generally service them just once a year and change the blades as required, which is a very simple process."
"I've used them myself and my lawns looked magnificent. The quality of the cut is second to none."
"They have razor blades that slice the grass rather than tear it. It also helps with weed control in the lawn"
Many of the models have GPS capability and their own intelligence system and can be easily programmed to mow the lawns perfectly, with sensors allowing it to cut to an edge, or over it, with millimetre precision.
He said they were safe with children and pets and make next to no noise.
"Some people see them and think they are a toy, but they're not. They are a serious machine."
"We are excited about the future and grateful for the support of the community. As a team, we jell really well and are really excited about the future."