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The ICEHOUSE celebrates one year in Bay; value for business big and small

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Kate de Lautour

It’s been almost a year since New Zealand’s leading business growth organisation, the Icehouse set up shop in Hawke’s Bay, giving our region the benefit of being New Zealand’s first province to host Icehouse programmes.

Since April 2013, more than 120 businesses, both small and large, have taken the opportunity to work with the Icehouse and feedback includes: improvement in sales, new sales channels, scaling export operations, reviewing governance, increased customer experience, new strategic direction, owner clarity, job creation - the list goes on.

One of the latest success stories is award winning Hastings based business, 3R Group.

3R GroupNow employing twenty-two staff, 3R is a leader in the development of product stewardship programmes for industry; think used car tyres, plastic packaging, unwanted agrichemicals, and leftover paint – even baby’s car seat capsules have a shelf-life, and they all need somewhere to go, ideally avoiding landfill.

Since inception in 2004, the company has focused on providing a complete service for their customers - from design and delivery of a scheme, through to recycling the waste stream.  Programmes include Agrecovery Rural Recycling which deals with chemicals and their packaging, and PaintWise, which collects and processes waste paint and packaging from Resene and Dulux stores, recycling the packaging and using the paint for graffiti abatement and other applications.

With help from the Icehouse, 3R has refocused and is now embarking on a nationwide re-launch of their brand.  It’s a shift that will enable the business to grow to exciting new heights and enhance its position as New Zealand’s leading provider of product stewardship solutions.

“We don’t see 3R’s future in owning trucks and travelling the depth and breadth of NZ – there are others who specialise in that space.  We want to focus our expertise in the design of new programmes,” 3R Chief Executive Adele Rose says.

So, why the shift?

Adele notes that while 3R always had bold growth plans, these weren’t being fully realised: “From the shareholders through to our stakeholders, there was a lack of clarity about what 3R actually does, resulting in a high level of brand confusion.”

“We always proudly said that we stand confidently behind the programmes we manage, but as a result 3R was being overshadowed by those brands.”

“Perhaps through our passion for the environment we believed that we could be all things to all people; we now recognise that this has constrained our growth opportunities.”

Identifying a crossroads for the company, Adele engaged the Icehouse as an external facilitator for the annual staff strategic planning days in July 2013.

Icehouse delivered a customer experience module and staff were encouraged to rethink the direction of the business through open discussions.  This included initiating an external stakeholder communication, with confidential feedback.  This would uncover what stakeholders actually thought about their interactions with 3R over the years.

“The stakeholder feedback provided huge value,” says Adele. “Going forward we will continue to engage with them to demonstrate how we have taken it on board.”

The next three modules delivered by Icehouse were owner clarity, strategic development for the board and the leadership team, and leadership and coaching.  These identified the drivers for business growth.

“During the process a clear picture emerged, giving way to the development of strategies we need to employ, and providing the role clarity that would allow staff and the business the freedom to grow.” 

Adele says the method of facilitation was tailored by the Icehouse specifically for 3R.

“The facilitators from the Icehouse have a unique skill – they didn’t actually provide the answers but made us work through the roadblocks to get to the answers.  This is what you need if you’re going to own the result.

“There has been no sense that we are just following a process and being delivered a recipe.

“Since engaging the Icehouse we now have owners, a board and staff who understand the direction we are headed and are confident in making decisions to achieve our goals.  The leadership team isn’t afraid to challenge each other to get the best results, and as Chief Executive, I have a clear mandate to just get on and do it.

“3R’s shareholders are now more confident about its future and bold campaigns are being brought to life.”

Another key benefit of the Icehouse owner clarity work was the realisation that 3R could improve their relationships, cross party, in Parliament, and with government departments critical to their work.

“We have now been invited to join the NZ Business in Parliament Trust - the first regional business to join and the smallest to boot. Through the Trust’s reciprocal arrangement MPs will get to learn more about us, and our staff will learn how to engage more effectively with decision makers.”

Adele notes that 3R have invested around $12,000 into the work with the Icehouse and believes that they now have the tools to deliver on their goals.

“We expect a good return on investment through new business worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

This new business potential is coming from a worldwide trend of consumers expecting industry to take more responsibility for their problematic waste. And, with New Zealand’s clean green image a critical factor for our economy, the market for designing solution based programmes for this waste is opening up.

“We’ll be working with companies who see value in giving their customers a solution for their packaging or product when it reaches the end of its life.  They realise this will not only deliver better financial returns, but will also contribute to a positive outcome for New Zealand, where we all live well and within the limits of our planet.”

Obviously new business potential also means new competitors but Adele is confident.

“The competitors may be nipping at our heels but we’re ready.

“Before we engaged the Icehouse we were unclear how to position ourselves for growth.  Now we have the confidence to grow 3R well beyond our current position.”