Alex Haden is the Managing Director of Preston Rowe Paterson and an Owner Manager Programme alumni.
This Kiwi Business Story is based on a podcast from 24 August 2023, and all figures quoted are from that time. You can enjoy the complete podcast here.
What does a typical day look like?
I'm the Managing Director of Preston Row Paterson. We're a valuation company, and a busy one at that! I'm an early starter, up at five o'clock so as to buy time at the end of the day to spend time with the family. My job is now less about being on the tools and more about relationships. I'm out in the community and building the repute of our firm so that we can continue to grow and achieve our goals.
Tell us about you and Preston Row Peterson?
I'm one of the few people that you'd meet who is still in the same firm that they started with fresh from university. I’ve been here for 26 years now and started as a valuer. I was as green as could be, just knocking out lots of valuations and, through a product of time and, I guess, natural attrition, as people retire and what have you, I've become not the most senior in age, but become senior as the managing director!
What makes your business different?
We’re multifaceted. We’ve got a residential and lifestyle valuation team, commercial, and rural, but within those we're trying to expand our respective offering… and become a more complete offering to all different sectors.
We’re trying to build that capacity within the business, as well as the awareness with our clients, that we can do a lot more than what they might have pigeon-holed us as being able to do a few years ago.
Why did you consider doing something with The Icehouse?
I was conscious that as the business grew, it was a whole lot more seat of your pants and gut instinct, rather than having good, considered approaches to things, and being really conscious of some of the disciplines that we should have. 26 years is a lot of time, but equally, I needed to get some of the skills that fitted the role that I had landed in through time.
The barriers: the cost, the time – those things were all real. The bank giving a bit of support, and my shareholders – they were really supportive – are the factors that made me jump on.
What were your first impressions?
I never expected to see valuation businesses on the Owner Manager Programme (OMP), but we've all got the same challenges, just in a slightly different way. They’re good people. It sometimes feels lonely when you're sitting in the seat – you think no one can really help, but then you build a little community around you who are happy to help out.
What were your key takeaways?
Pre-Icehouse, and pre-kids (because they happened relatively close to one another) I took liberties on myself. I would work a lot harder, I would put myself second, whereas I've got different commitments now. Some of the disciplines that were learned from The Icehouse have been really valuable through this next phase of life.
OMP has changed me hugely, in every aspect of my life. I'm a lot healthier – the sessions with Sven Hansen, I thought, ‘This guy's too good to be true, it can't be legit!’ But there's a whole lot of disciplines that can come with that, so getting up nice and early in the morning, exercising regularly. I drink a lot less than I used to, so my physical self is better, and I've got a lot more resilience as a result.
In terms of the business side, I'm more considered and disciplined now. We know the numbers – before OMP, we didn't, quite frankly. We were a relatively cashflow positive business and, as a smaller business, you had an instinct as to how things sat, whereas now we’re more budget-focused, budgeting out two and three years plus, and knowing what it takes to reach our objectives.
There’s accountability that comes from that. We can get engagement with our team – ‘here's where our budgets are sitting’, get buy in, and then share that information. There’s pressure that comes from it in some ways too, but equally, there's such a good feeling of satisfaction when you achieve what you set out to do.