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Presidents Viewpoint July 2010

This month I admit I have not been heavily involved with Chamber as I have rolled up my sleeves and concentrated on sanding, painting, varnishing and working on the refurbishment of Heritage House, formerly The Gent or as some know it, the Wanganui Club.  It’s a stunning building and a real pleasure to see it responding to the attention it’s getting.  Revitalising it as a business hub will bring the old building to life.

For the past two years people talked of recession and in Wanganui it seemed we didn’t feel the adverse effects of that at the time.  Listening to business people in the past couple of months, it appears trade is pretty tough out there at the moment with fierce competition for customers, especially in retail.  I don’t have any answers; I don’t think it has anything to do with Palmerston North having a new mall or people shopping out of town, most people I talk to are loyal to Wanganui retail.    People are just not spending on anything that isn’t a necessity.  Maybe now is a good time for people to turn this into a positive opportunity to pick up some bargains and put aside for Christmas, at the same time helping our local business.

Changes to the Labour Law by extending the 90day trial period should provide employers a level of confidence to employ people and even though this only applies to those companies who employ less than 20 staff, this equates to more than 90% of NZ businesses.  As more New Zealanders now work Public Holidays, I am pleased they now have the right to another day off of their choice when they can observe the Public Holiday they worked. The ability for employers to pay for medical assessment and ask for legitimate proof of sickness or illness is welcome.  This is one area often abused by employees that can amount to be a huge cost to employers who have recitative staff who abuse this right as wanting a day off without actually being sick.

Pat on the back to Wanganui District Council allocating a budget to promote Wanganui in a positive light.  Every city needs to be showcased to attract visitors and more importantly future citizens and businesses.  Business relocation is most important, we could have the greatest city in the world but families won’t settle here if there are no prospects and no work.  As with every marketing campaign it needs to be effective and it needs to be measured for effectiveness.     

I urge all businesses to log on to the District Council website and click onto the link in support of Wanganui gaining a successful bid for a high-speed fibre optic network.  This is an essential asset for a large majority of businesses and will become increasingly more so in the future as the way in which we do business continues to grow on connectivity reliance.

Those who are working on their business award entries – good for you and very best of luck. Just by entering you will all be winners for your business growth and acumen.  Those still contemplating – get going, there is still plenty of time to get started. Helpful hints are posted on the Chamber website.  

Attendance at Chamber events is growing month by month and your Chamber looks forward to catching up with you at the Kingsgate Hotel after 5 today.  Bring along a prospective new member and introduce them to the most vibrant business network in town.

Quote: Doug Larson: Some of the world's greatest feats were accomplished by people not smart enough to know they were impossible.

Enjoy a great month!
Bronwyn Paul

Presidents Viewpoint June 2010

The month kicked off with the 2010 Massey University Business Awards launch.   Speakers, Ross Pringle and Richard Williams from our Media Partners, Fraser Bell, Marketing Manager for Massey University College of Business followed by an endorsement from 2009 Supreme Winner on behalf of GDM Group, Simon Dickson echoed the very real benefits for those who enter their business in the awards process.  If these people did not inspire and motivate you to enter the 2010 Awards, I don’t know what will!  From a personal perspective, our business initially entered the awards to have the business practices and procedures scrutinized by the expertise and business acumen provided by the Massey University judges.  For our business it turned out to be more than this.  For the first time ever, we really looked at the inner mechanics that drove the business and learned more than we could have imagined.   The judge’s feedback told us what we needed to know to take the business to the next level.  Four times a category winner, I recommend entering the business awards to all who are serious about their business.  I especially encourage retail, hospitality and tourism sectors to enter.  It really is a tool for growth”

On Friday the 18th Charles Finny, CEO for Chamber of Commerce in Wellington visited our Board to elaborate on the integration between Chamber and Employers Manufacturers Association.  Wellington is the first to merge on 1st July under the new branding called Employers Chamber of Commerce (ECC) with Wanganui following second on 1st August.  The new ECC will facilitate more streamlined professional services, training programs, business advice and greater access to speakers for members with three options for membership.  The first is the traditional Chamber of Commerce membership that focuses on central and local government submissions affecting business, Certificates of Origin, BA5’s, seminars, networking and other chamber hosted events.  Option two will be a discounted sub that incorporates Chamber of Commerce and EMA functions such as employment, tax, legal and HR advice to employers and thirdly a membership option aimed at Manufacturers and Exporters with a whole range of products and services for that group.  The new structure will expand and enhance the benefits of membership that currently exists with each organisation and we look forward to introducing a wider range of services to our members.

The Chamber BA5 hosted by ANZ this month was excellent with a great turnout of members.  ANZ introduces a whole new concept of banking at their new state of the art bank.  I learnt our Wanganui ANZ is second busiest branch in New Zealand and after a tour of their services I’m not surprised.  All spaces within the bank are open areas, no barriers between tellers and customer, visitor pods for appointments, TV and DVD’s with beanbags to amuse the littlies while Mum or Dad do their banking.  Fully automated ATM machines that not only carry out normal transactions but can accept cheques for banking with printout of cheques deposited, automatic note and coin counting machines and computers for those who want to access personal or commercial banking services.   I was impressed!  Congratulations ANZ.

When iconic attractions such as the Waimarie Paddle Steamer hit a snag it allows opportunity for some creative thinking.  Wanganui is intent on developing the area around Taupo Quay to be the focal point for the city and rightly so.  I recently took a trip up the river and it reminded me how lucky we are to have this asset.  The Waimarie could still earn money docked at the wharf over the winter months and become a great place to enjoy a coffee or why not contract a nearby restaurant and turn it into a ‘dinner boat’. Who would care if their dinner had a small delivery charge added to the fare?   It would be stunning dining right on the river with the reflection of city lights, maybe a jazz band and could add another dimension to this unique tourist attraction.

Quote:  Nelson Mandela: The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall   

Enjoy a great month!
Bronwyn Paul

Presidents Viewpoint May 2010

At 5:15pm today our BA5 is the launch for the 2010 Massey University Wanganui Business Awards hosted by GDM Group who were the 2009 Supreme Winner.    Before I mention anything else I want to acknowledge the sponsors onboard for 2010; Action Coach Business Coaching, ComputerCare, ACC, CentrePort Wellington, Q-West Boat Builders, Whanganui Community Foundation, UCOL, MSD, Wanganui Inc, Training For You, Pernot Rickard, DB Breweries, Anndion Lodge, Kiwiwebs, Trafalgar Square, National Bank, Watkins Motors, media sponsors Wanganui Chronicle and Radio Network, plus of course Massey University – you all make these awards possible and I thank you sincerely!  We are still looking for one category sponsor, so if you can help with this please let us know.  Profiling the sponsors is a priority this year and the opportunity to enter provides valuable tools for growth and development.   Entry is open to ALL businesses, big or small and there is no cost to enter, in fact you will receive up to $2000 worth of professional consultation.  There will be step by step advice on the Chamber website and assistance is available to help you along the way. Entries are available by just calling the Chamber office, so what are you waiting for... start your entry now, or nominate a business or manager you feel deserves recognition in these prestigious awards.

On the 14th I attended the auction run by Bayley’s Real Estate where sections, commercial and residential properties went to the hammer.   The auction attracted large interest from developers, investors and home owners, with people purchasing desirable properties at competitive prices.   It was a lesson in reality where the market dictated the price with some selling well below GV.   I’m not sure how this will impact on the local real estate sector but it proved if you are serious about selling property, auction is still an effective sales platform.

As I write this the 2010 Budget has just been released.  Business will welcome the tax reforms with company tax reduced to 28cents in the dollar.  It is a positive move toward a more competitive, higher-earning economy.  Company tax provisions are pointing in the right direction and the consistency of 28 percent for company and PIE taxes will make the system fairer and encourage investment, exports, growth and savings.  GST increases to 15% October 1st and this will mean some work for businesses with high volume automatic payment processes and updating accountancy software, early management of these will ensure a smoother transition come October.   Reforms in property tax means investors can no longer double dip claiming depreciation while their property investment is increasing in value.   Overall the budget will benefit the average income earner and is fiscally responsible, maintaining NZ’s AA plus credit rating.

Quote:  Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after another. Walter Elliott

Enjoy a great month!

Bronwyn Paul

Presidents Viewpoint April 2010

Business confidence trends appear to be cautiously optimistic with more companies now looking at employing staff.   This was obviously apparent when our company advertised a position recently with well over 50 applications received.  Depending on the position, determining a shortlist or doing a group interview to shortlist are two options for employers.   Several years ago I started doing a group interview process of candidates and found this method excellent to quickly weed out those who shine and those are disinterested.  This method provides a more relaxed, less intimidating way to initially meet your applicants with the opportunity to talk about the business and position without having to repeat yourself over and over as in the traditional interview method.  Then when you have shortlisted and do the one on one interview, the focus is entirely on the candidate.  A hint to job applicants, include a photo if you can, keep your CV real, up-to-date, appropriate to the job you are seeking, listing transferrable skills or qualifications and please remember to include a cover letter, this gives employers a glimpse of your personality and writing skills.

The Wanganui District Council Draft Annual Plan has become available and now is the time for business to review this and let Chamber know what you feel is important to be included in the submission we will present.   One item that almost certainly will be included is asking for the accountability mechanism and what will be the actual cost to ratepayers for the new Information Centre.  While Chamber accepts there is relevance for a shop front to an Information Centre, the cost needs to be capped to reflect the current state of the Council’s budget.  
Susan Crawshaw, Chamber’s  new Trades Facilitator  began her role three weeks ago and has already made significant in-roads, meeting with key stakeholders and an inclusive  communications plan to develop co-operative relationships with schools, students, private training enterprises, industry training organisations and trades.  Sue has excellent capabilities and we welcome her to the team.

Insurance is a necessary cost for all business but how many businesses are absolutely certain what their policy includes?  This became apparent for the businesses ravaged by the fire in Raglan recently.   One business, among other things, lost their business database, and an associated business who had material stored at the location of the fire found their insurance was not only inadequate, but also inappropriate. They paid $80k worth of coverage that in essence only let them claim their computer equipment and stationary.  There are examples of Wanganui companies that have suffered fire to find some of the pitfalls associated with their insurance that they were unaware of.  Too many companies and private individuals are under insured, or have the wrong insurance: and despite almost continuous warnings to save back up of ICT away from the business, very few do this.   I would like to see Chamber facilitate an independent insurance advisor to host a forum or event that business owners can attend to find out everything they need to know so they can make informed decisions about their insurance protection.

Two events to attend and be connected; Business After 5’s  at RP London on April 28th introducing a new corporate apparel range and 26th May the launch of the 2010 Massey University Wanganui Business Awards at GDM Group.  Businesses have discovered the value of hosting and attending BA5’s with full bookings on the calendar through to 2011.  For a full list of Chamber events, visit www. wanganuichamber.co.nz

Quote: "The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humour, but without folly."   Jim Rohn

Enjoy a great month!
Bronwyn Paul









New Zealand Retailers Association:

New Zealand Trade & Enterprise:

Statistics New Zealand:

Level 1,156 Victoria Ave, Wanganui
P.O Box 88, Wanganui 4540
Phone: 06 3450080 - Fax: 3451182