After a much-enjoyed 10 year tenure at the helm of Douglas Outdoor Living and Auto & Marine Upholstery, Mike & Sandy König announce it’s time for new owners to take the helm.
Here’s a message of farewell from them, and a warm introduction to new owners Pete Swinburn and Suzanne Hoyt.
We wish to advise that Sandy and I have sold our businesses, Rainbow Shade Products NZ (2008) Ltd, Douglas Auto & Marine Upholstery (2008) Ltd and 0800 Sunshade (2008) Ltd, effective 4 April 2018.
It has been a pleasure working in our industry over the past 10 years. Business performance has been excellent, the company is in really good heart, we have a great team running the day-to-day operations, so it is a good time to hand the helm on to the next team.
For our customers this change in ownership should be totally seamless as our operating team will remain largely unchanged.
The new owners will be Pete Swinburn and Suzanne Hoyt and the new entity will be Sunshade Group Ltd. Going forward all contact details will remain the same.
Sandy and I thank you sincerely for your support over the past few years – it has been a pleasure dealing with you. We hope that you will show the same support to Pete and Suzanne in the future.
Mike & Sandy
Q&A: Looking back at 10 years of running a business in Hawke’s Bay.
Before they fade off into the sunset at the wheel of their motor home, we asked Mike & Sandy to share their story about their time at Douglas and what they’re looking forward to for the business under new leadership.
You’ve been at Douglas 10 years. In that time what have been the highlights and adversities?
We took over on April Fool’s Day 2008 – the start of the GFC; great start. The highlights have been the people we have worked with and had on our team. They have such skill and commitment, and have been fun to work with – we will miss them, the humour, the innovation, the quality. It’s been wonderful seeing the company develop from “auto & marine upholstery” to an “outdoor living solutions” provider – with new products, new skills and heaps of new customers. The positive feedback from our customers regarding our staff and their work has been hugely encouraging and rewarding. Competition in some areas is fierce – but we have always said we’d rather walk away from a job than cut corners in order to meet price pressures – that way we have maintained our high quality and customer service, which we believe have been the cornerstone of the company’s success.
What have you noticed over time in terms of the local community, advancements in technology etc?
Over the years we have invested in new and proven technology in order to keep up with developments and to make us more efficient. We have tried a few things that did not work, but mostly every investment has paid off. We certainly note the vibrancy in Hawke’s Bay at present – confidence is high in our region as more and more people recognize what Hawke’s Bay has to offer – whether during a visit or when living here. Plus we have appreciated the increasing number of people that recognize and appreciate quality products and service.
Tell us a little about the history of Douglas before you guys came along?
Douglas has been going for about 25 years; it was started by Peter and Maree Douglas as an auto & marine upholstery workshop. A testament to the commitment of our team, we even have Peter O’Connel with us, who has been with Douglas since the beginning and will now be on his 3rd boss without changing jobs!
Tell us a little about your personal story, where you were before & how you landed up at Douglas?
I (Mike) am originally from Germany; Sandy found me in South Africa and decided I was worth importing to NZ (amid promises of beautiful blue seas, white sail and plenty of fish). After 8 years in Auckland we moved to “the bay” in 1993. After many years in senior roles in multinational corporates in the pharmaceutical, food and beverage industries in NZ and with Sandy’s background in financial management we decided to “do our own thing”, and run a business to our own values and standards. We bought this group, knowing absolutely nothing about fabrics, upholstery or the technology involved. It has been a steep learning curve (and my team has successfully safeguarded equipment and product by keeping me at a safe distance from it). We have been amazed at what happens in this industry – from restoring classic vehicles, to creating amazing outdoor spaces to constructing huge fabric-based structures such as The Cloud and the new stadium in Christchurch.
What are you most proud of about the team at Douglas?
Their ability to have fun, share a joke, have each others’ backs while very humbly displaying incredible innovation and skill in meeting customers’ expectations.
Now that you’ve handed over the helm, what are your plans for your next adventure?
We most definitely will be staying in Hawke’s Bay as now one of our daughters has moved back here with her husband and we love the lifestyle here. But there will be many adventures exploring all corners of New Zealand and quite a few overseas. And a lot more time out on the boat chasing that elusive 20kg kingfish.
What are you most excited about in terms of where Douglas might go in the future with fresh leadership the helm?
New eyes, new contacts, fresh energy will result in taking the company to the next level. We are confident Pete and Suzanne will ensure that the company will continue to offer excellent products and superior customer experiences. The operating team remains largely the same and they are all extremely capable and focused on delivering a job done well.
Like to talk to the Douglas team about your next project? Maybe for quality Auto & Marine Upholstery, or an exceptional Outdoor Living Solution?
Get in touch and tell us what you’re thinking of doing. Large or small the team would love to help with your project.