Industry Focus: Wholesale Trade

Posted by The Icehouse on 5/12/2023 12:00:00 AM

Our latest industry focus reports on the wholesale trade sector and how The Icehouse can help owners upskill and accelerate the business's growth curve.
Globally, the market will be worth US$61 billion by 2027 at a compound annual growth rate of 7%. There are approximately 17,000 businesses in New Zealand’s wholesale trade industry, while Infometrics places wholesale trade as the third-highest contributor to the Aotearoa’s GDP (at 5.3%).

Industry Focus Wholesale Trade

Healthy numbers indeed, but the statistics reveal only so much. The wholesale trade industry is complex and running a business is hard. Wholesale is interconnected to every other conceivable industry in one way or another. From retail and tourism to construction, education and manufacturing, there’s a wholesale element somewhere in the chain.

Wholesalers are also at the fulcrum of the commercial pipeline. They must work closely with suppliers and manufacturers to source high-quality products but must then appeal to customers to sell what they have.

As a result, just like in retail and agribusiness, today’s wholesale trade business owners must wear multiple hats. They are expected to be experts across everything, possessing excellent negotiation, communication and leadership skills, being financially literate, and having a handle on the intricacies of supply chain management while possessing the latest sales and marketing intel.

Add to that the ‘everyday’ challenges owners are facing: fluctuating market conditions, geographical location (it’s hard to build a successful wholesale export business from NZ), business uncertainty, and there’s a lot going on.

Our wholesale trade alumni tell us that The Icehouse’s programmes, workshops and coaching services help them acquire the multi-faceted, all-areas skills they need to excel – and develop some fresh thinking for good measure.  
‘But how can professional development help with such a specific industry as wholesale trade?’ It’s a fair question. The Owner Manager Programme (OMP), for example, combines academic teaching, practical learning and uses specific real-world examples related to your individual business, never a ‘one-size fits all’ approach, to enhance your offering and provide insights you can use immediately and in the long-term. 

Each owner's requirements will look different, be it developing high-level strategic business plans, identifying staffing needs, knowing the numbers, creating efficiencies in existing systems and processes, even working on well-being and mindset. If you’re looking to clear a barrier to business, solve a long-lasting issue that’s putting a handbrake on growth, or need to refresh and revitalise your thinking around your already successful business, solutions are out there.

“I did OMP in 2009 and the Owner Manager Exchange programme in 2014 and 2020. I’ve also put some of the team through the Leadership Development Programme and done some customised Icehouse training, so you can say I’m a big advocate of The Icehouse!” says Andrew Giltrap, Managing Director of Giltrap AgriZone, which sells, leases and services New Zealand-made and imported brands of agricultural machinery. 

Even for an established business, Andrew was able to tap into OMP to help identify more growth points to take the business to the next level.

“It’s not just about the sale; after-sales service and product knowledge is vital and we’re very proud of our well-established reputation for this. But it all starts at the top and just gravitates down from there. We’ve made huge investments in quality premises, stock and support equipment to provide the best possible 24-hour service, but our biggest investment has been in our team.”

Richard Beaumont is the Director of plant wholesaler Ardmore Nurseries and recent Founder and Director of start-up Agovor. He cites stepping away from day-to-day operations on OMP as the catalyst for finding the confidence to try something new, make lifestyle changes, and get assurance in a room full of business owners from other industries that he’s doing well.

“I think the separation from the business was really good. How the course took all the business owners away from their business and your family, and cementing a lot of the work that we've already done was really beneficial in knowing that you're on the right track. 

“The network was great – having a group that you could talk about similar things you were going through with… and that some of your things are ‘not so bad!’ Around OMP time [I was] thinking of living overseas for a year. So that just helped with that – giving me the confidence in the business that going away for a year would be okay, and then also giving me the confidence to spend more time in the start-up and doing a whole lot of business work.”

Ultimately, a well-run business runs well in any industry. Investing in yourself can get you the ‘great-run business’ you deserve.

When you start growing your business, you make mistakes but you don’t realise it until it’s too late,” says Andrew Giltrap. “You don’t know what you don’t know. You have to get over that because running a successful business is like anything else; you’ve got to love and care for it just like a plant. Sometimes that can mean realising that you might be the problem and working out how to deal with that.”

For information on programmes, workshops and business coaching services from The Icehouse, click here.

For more business ownership and leadership advice, check out more of our resources.

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