MEET Premier INSULATION
Only a few years ago Mike Murray was an oyster farm owner and the Tumuaki (Principal) of a kura kaupapa, working in the far north. Today he is the Owner/Director of Premier Insulation West Auckland and Rodney, supporting families with warm, dry homes across the region. “One job a day – that was our target when we started,” he says as he reflects on the career transition. “Now we’re averaging six a day. Last week we had 55 jobs alone, working two weekend shifts,” he adds as he talks about the increased demand on their services to meet the needs of both new housing developments and, retro-fitting of older homes.
The Ngāti Kurī and Rongomaiwahine father of three, originally moved to Auckland from Ahipara with wife Eileen (Tūwharetoa) to give their sons an opportunity to pursue rugby and secondary schooling. The decision to buy an insulation business started with the desire for financial independence. It came about after a chance meeting on a plane as Mike was returning from participating in the 2017 Coast to Coast event. James Parker, CEO of Premier Insulation, sat next to Mike on that flight and shared about his job. He left Mike with his card and bid him farewell.
Later that year Mike recognised the demand for insulation installation and made contact. “I gave him a ring to see if there were any opportunities. It was great timing as they were selling the Rodney branch. Eileen and I decided to take the plunge.” They made it official in March 2018 and head office supported them with business development, install training, quantity surveying and bookings. By August they were thriving, and were offered to buy the West Auckland branch.
“We’ve maintained growth, covering an area from Mangawhai Heads to Māngere Bridge, increasing turnover six-fold in the last 18 months. We used to work out of a container and a people mover. Now we have a commercial space, a fleet of vehicles including six trucks, and employ five office staff and
Mike has also supported his eldest son into business. Having helped his dad in the business, Heremaia decided to get his Class 2 truck license, he set up a company and, bought himself a truck. He now takes care of Premier Insulation West Auckland and Rodney’s product deliveries.
“He’s even employed two of his mates to do the Auckland drop offs to the new builds,” adds Mike. Heremaia and his staff are part of the Auckland Rugby Development squad and along with training commitments, he is quickly learning about PAYE, GST and the other intricacies of business, thanks to the collaboration with his dad.
With New Zealand’s new insulation regulations coming into effect last year, Mike and his team had a booked schedule of residential work which they did alongside commercial builds, childcare centres, new developments, apartment blocks and retail buildings. Having both small and large-scale clients, he is grateful for the support they have been given in their early stages of this new industry. “Plaza Properties in Long Bay were an awesome client to work with. We went into that job not knowing how to do progressive invoicing, and so, they taught us.”
Employing staff of Māori and Pasifika descent, some who Mike and Eileen have helped into employment from a Work and Income benefit, the pair are proud to be part of a growing industry that will not only upskill, but also encourage self-employment through installation contracts. Coming from teaching backgrounds, the couple also want to look into developing basic literacy and numeracy training programmes for the construction industry.
“We aren’t in business just for our own benefit. We want to grow others and bring them along on this journey.” They also have aspirations to give back to iwi. “Working together with iwi will enable us to create packages for homes that belong to their beneficiaries. Together we could offer insulation solutions for more Māori across the city.”
While there’s huge demand for insulation, following close behind is on-demand heating and ventilation.
Mike says new builds are now at a point where a house is so tight it doesn’t get air in. So, he is working with ENRIVO Smart Ventilation to expand his services into this area.
“We want to meet the customer’s needs. To do that we are ensuring our business is service-driven, solutions-driven and agile. We have built great relationships with our clients and in this early stage of business we can only see it grow from here.”
Story and photos by Qiane Matata-Sipu. http://www.qiane.co.nz/