Supplying fixtures for a store in a leading Californian retail and leisure complex has netted Whanganui company GDM a top industry award.
GDM director Michael Eden said his company's fittings for Rodd and Gunn's store in Fashion Island, Orange County, won the international category in the New Zealand Retail Interiors Association's (NZRIA) 2017 awards.
In addition, GDM staff member Fernando Castellanos received the rising star award for the industry's most promising young talent. The company was also a finalist in three other award categories.
"We enter the awards every year and have had some wins before," Mr Eden said.
"It was pleasing to win the international category because the Rodd and Gunn project was difficult and clever and tested us to get the production done and shipped. Rodd and Gunn are a long-term customer of ours and we've done shops in New Zealand and Australia for them. They're now expanding in the States.
"We enter the awards to showcase ourselves. We are showing that we can produce a high standard of design. In this particular case, we were the manufacturer of the product and the original design came from an independent retail designer. It showed we can produce and engineer to a high standard a concept from a retail designer.
GDM, which stands for Good Design Matters, develops fit-out concepts for stores and does the first production runs in its Gilberd St premises. Depending on the scale of a job, they may make part of the fittings locally and part in their factory in China or have everything made in China. The fittings are then shipped and assembled in the store by a contractor.
"Retailers are hugely under pressure from online retailers like Amazon and overseas brands like H&M and Zara so are thinking what is it they can do to provide for the customer. That's where we get involved. It's usually around value and our ability to give sound retail advice is very important.
"It's not just about fixtures but understanding retail and visual merchandising. We do work for all the blue chip retailers in New Zealand, from apparel stores to health, electronics and convenience."
While GDM used to supply to retailers in Europe and Asia, they are now mainly concentrating on New Zealand and the huge Australian market.
"It's balancing the opportunities that come up with practicality. Customers require face-time, whoever they are. Being able to meet your market and be in your market is very important.
"From a Whanganui base I think we can compete on the world stage for innovation and value. We have plenty of competition in the market but our point of difference is that we do both metal and joinery and combine the two really well."
Product design engineer Castellanos, named the industry's rising star at the awards, is originally from Guatemala. He did his degree at Massey University and was employed by GDM after he graduated. The title goes to a person under 30 who has been in the industry up to three years.
Mr Eden is president of the NZRIA which has a keen focus on the future of the industry.
"As an industry body, we want to work hard to make sure we have graduates and young people coming into the industry.
"The future of every industry is the young people. This is quite a glamorous place to work - we're in the fashion industry. We have determined that we can teach skills but we're looking for a can-do attitude. It sounds a simple thing to ask for but it's not something that's taught."