There’s a lot of room for flexibility for KiwiSpan licensees – and no one demonstrates that potential better than Stephen and Emma Cross. With just a small team of two, a background in sales, and the due diligence to get things done right, the KiwiSpan Northland duo has built an excellent reputation over the last nine years.
We sat down with Emma and Stephen to chat about their journey from 2014 to becoming a 2022 KiwiSpan License of the Year Runner Up – and how they approach their business.
“We choose to work on projects that really fit the KiwiSpan system,” says Stephen. “We know our strengths, and what kinds of buildings work well with our product.”
For KiwiSpan Northland, it’s about adding the most value, and finding the right balance. “The customer should receive a very high quality shed, at a great price, delivered quickly and efficiently; the business should expect a healthy margin and a smooth, tried and trusted process.”
Emma and Stephen have found a particular niche in open-span sheds, usually with two or three bays. Their customers are often people who are clear about what they want, and value solid, well-made products.
Emma says that they choose to work as a duo, rather than hiring a team. “We’re happy with where we sit right now. If we wanted to grow our team, we’d really be taking the business in a different direction – and the way we manage things now allows us wonderful flexibility and financial support without the complications of managing staff.”
Stephen says they appreciate the autonomy of being a KiwiSpan licensee, and the way it has helped them find the right home-work balance.
Unlike most other licensees, Stephen doesn’t come from a building background. With extensive experience in business sales, including for Signature Homes, Stephen and Emma started managing house building projects and developed an interest in construction. When the original owners of KiwiSpan Northland moved on, the duo took the leap into shed building.
Coming from a sales background means that the team is comfortable going out into the market to find customers and build lasting relationships. It’s one of the reasons why Emma and Stephen are known for becoming friends with their clients.
“As someone who has never been a builder, entering the industry certainly came with a steep learning curve,” says Stephen. “But I think we are proof that you can come into this network and be successful with the right business mindset and commitment to getting it done.”
KiwiSpan Northland uses contractors for all the building work, and learned the bread-and-butter of the trade from an administrative expert back in 2014. After nearly eight years of full autonomy, Stephen and Emma are well-versed in every step of the shed building process. When they do need support, they say it’s easy to reach out to the wider network.
“Donovan Group has such good people working with them; everyone has the same passion and commitment, and we’re all eager to help each other out. The network also has a strong training and support system in place now for new licensees – and that makes a huge difference.”
With three children at home, it’s always been important to Stephen and Emma to have plenty of personal time and space.
“Our lifestyle is so important to us,” says Stephen. “KiwiSpan has been such a good fit for that. It’s allowed us to live the way we want to, with this great balance between having support and being in control.”
With the backing of Donovan Group, that balance has become even better. Stephen says that the reliability of Donovan Group – from their processes to their products – is exceptional. Plus, the buying power that comes with being in the network helps them operate more efficiently. “Even down to the branding support,” says Stephen, “we’re happy to see such great work that helps us grow stronger as a licensee.”
“We really feel the benefits of having your own business. We get to operate the way we like. We know it’s quite different to other licensees in the network – but the national KiwiSpan team has been fully supportive.”
KiwiSpan is proud to have a diverse and exceptional network of licensees across the country. If you see a bit of yourself in Stephen and Emma’s story, then you might be a good fit in the KiwiSpan community.
With new regions for sale right now, we’re always looking for driven, business-savvy people who are ready to put their passion into a KiwiSpan license.
Download the licensee prospectus to learn more about what it means to be part of our network.