From Penk’s Pen – Supporting local businesses

In the past couple of years we’ve talked quite a bit about supporting local businesses. During the covid lockdowns, this became a near necessity as well as feeling like the right  thing to do.
Switching the focus to the decisions that we all make as consumers, at an individual level, the choices made by government are also important.
From the perspective of policy makers, supporting local businesses should look like enabling the family firms and other small outfits to get a fair go. When it comes to rules and regulations, often the big end of town is better placed to weather a storm of red tape,  simply due to scale. A larger firm (for example a multinational operating an office in New  Zealand) will usually have a broader workforce – so can hire a dedicated “health and  safety” officer, for example – in a way that Mumand- Dad businesses simply doesn’t. And  then of course there’s a question of having a big balance sheet backed my many shareholders, compared with the small start-up reliant on borrowing against the  family home.
Recently I had the privilege of visiting Wharehine Construction Contractors, a multi-service civil construction, quarrying & transport business. They’re based in Wellsford but operate across both the Auckland and Northland regions.
What stood out to me was not only their reputation of employing locals but additionally that they are built on a foundation of family values and a family culture. They’re a seriously impressive and credible organisation, as can be seen in the infrastructure  projects they’re completing in our area, such as Matakana Link Road. Importantly,  though, they are part of the community and are literally invested in the success of this area.
I give the example of Wharehines to illustrate the bigger point that we all need to play our part, including Wellington, to support local businesses both big and small.
I hope this column finds everyone well and surviving the early onset of silly season  activities. Christmas seems to have come early this year (although maybe I’ve allowed it to sneak up on me!) and I hope to see you out and about at the various local Santa parades, markets and the like … supporting local businesses and a certain jolly fellow from the North Pole too.

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