Saturday, May 12

Flying high

In a few weeks we'll celebrate the third anniversary of acquiring our wonderful small business. The time has simply flown by. Since its acquisition, the business has doubled in size. As you can imagine we’ve been incredibly busy managing this growth.  This included renewing most of its systems, processes and infrastructure.

Projects we’ve completed to date include:
  • rolling out a new accounting system,
  • introducing a customer relationship management system, 
  • rebuilding its website on a modern e-commerce platform,
  • refreshing its sales and marketing program - an exercise that’s included a new catalogue, new email marketing campaigns, online advertising and a new custom-built trade show booth,
  • refreshing its corporate identity, and
  • adding four new suppliers.
At the same time, our outsourced warehouse has relocated to larger premises and we’ve taken on dozens of new customers nationwide.  A second phase of projects is now underway.  These build on the foundations we’ve put in place; and once finished; should allow us to double the size of the business again.  This includes a software automation project that will ultimately see orders flow from our website into our business systems and then on to our warehouse with little or no human intervention.  We’re also adding new functionality to our upgraded website and building additional websites designed to enhance our customer service.

It’s been an astonishing ride filled with plenty of highs and lows.  Highlights to date have included winning four industry awards; Supplier of the Year, two Toy of Year awards and more recently Best Stand at the annual industry Toy Fair.  As sales have doubled we've been delighted to witness one of our brands quietly establishing itself as an emerging market leader in its category.

However, the most transformative change in recent times has been the much-anticipated appointment of a part-time business manager.  This role is progressively freeing Garry and I from an increasing array of administrative tasks.  We’ve suddenly found ourselves with free evenings and weekends; along with an ability to finally plan a few business trips and vacations that were previously impossible without closing the office.

Qantas must love us!  Over the next seven months we have no fewer than six trips scheduled.  This includes a ten-day business trip to San Francisco to meet with two of our largest suppliers, a week’s vacation in Fiji to celebrate Garry’s 50th birthday and a Christmas vacation in New Zealand. We also have our regular trip to Melbourne in August where we exhibit at an annual Gift Fair, plus flights to Hong Kong for its annual toy fair and our annual trek to Nuremberg, Germany in January next year to meet with our suppliers.

Our trip to Nuremberg next year has been routed via London.  This gives us an opportunity to attend the London Toy Fair and hold planning meetings with one of our key suppliers.  We’ll be flying on the new non-stop Qantas route from Perth to London in its uber comfortable Dreamliner.  Then while on our way to Nuremberg we’re spending a weekend in Krakow, Poland.  This will give us an opportunity to experience firsthand the Nazi concentration camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau.

This flying visit to Poland, and our week in Fiji, will add another two countries to my travel map and bring my count to 70 countries (if you include three very fleeting visits to countries where we briefly crossed the border but didn’t stop for more than a few minutes).  Garry worked out that by Christmas both of us will have done enough travel to finally renew our Platinium status with Qantas.  It's been more than five years since I lost my Platinum status and even longer for Garry.  Garry recently celebrated achieving lifetime Gold status with Qantas, a milestone I’d achieved several years ago.

While in New Zealand for Christmas we're planning a week-long road trip through the Taranaki region.  This will be my first visit to the area.  Once completed I'll have effectively visited every corner of the country for the first time in my life (with the exception of Stewart Island - which is on my travel bucket list!).  Finally, we're taking a weekend off while in San Francisco to spend a few days trekking through the Redwood Forests of Northern California.  We drove through the area without stopping six years ago so it will be fun to spend quality time among the forest giants.

After three years of hard slog it's wonderful to finally find ourselves with more time and flexibility to travel again.  Long may it last!

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