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Fri, 26 Nov 2021
Family, community, and responsibility for the environment are always top of mind for Karina and Dale Wakefield, Dominator Garage Door Centre owners at Tauranga and winners of Dominator's National Service Award this year. Their business has served Tauranga and the Bay Area for many years, building lasting relationships with locals and local businesses alike. We caught up with them for a chat.
The couple bought the business in October 2005 when Dale decided a change was in order, after his time as GM of a roading company and years as a Quantity Surveyor. Karina joined just a few weeks later, bringing her experience in customer services to the business. Their roles are much the same as they were back then, with Karina handling cash flow and admin overview, albeit these days on a more or less part-time basis. Dale, as Managing Director, handles quoting and operations overview, manages the installers and nurtures the long term relationships he's built with national and local builders. Dale's experience also makes him invaluable to the team for assistance with non-standard door orders.
A recent install by Dominator Garage Door Centre Tauranga
Karina and Dale's son Chris has come on board as Commercial Manager and takes care of day to day operations and scheduling. Being a scientist with a degree in Biochemistry, Chris' background doesn't necessarily lean toward garage doors, but managing asbestos testing laboratories around the country taught him valuable skills. "We needed someone, and Chris thought that with his experience running labs he could make a difference, which he has", says Dale. The role has been a welcome change for Chris, who craved permanence after years of travelling for work. He has slotted into the team quickly, "taking us into the 21st century with some of our systems", Dale quips.
The staff of 13 includes six installers and two full-time service and repairs staff. Handling garage doors is a physical job, so senior staff tend to the technical jobs and repairs while the younger team members do the heavier installations work. The crew has all come from various industries, and they tend to stay, five team members now having received the special acknowledgement the company gives on their fifth work anniversary. Keeping the family connection going, nephew Rylee has joined the installation team since returning to NZ during covid 2020 after a stint playing rugby in the UK. "He just made it back before the borders closed," says Karina.
With such a large and experienced crew, the business can handle whatever jobs arise over the Western Bay of Plenty and Tauranga. Their garage door installation services cover the supply and installation of garage doors, automatic openers and accessories, new construction and retrofit doors, bespoke garage doors and gate automation and servicing. In addition, they service and repair all makes and models of residential and commercial garage doors. Contracts with commercial builders and shed companies also keep the team busy.
There is healthy competition in the garage door sector in a growth area such as Tauranga, but there's also a lot of work to go around. Being the largest garage door business in Tauranga with a trusted brand behind them puts the company in good stead. "Our brand is strong. When people have a Dominator door or automatic opener, they ring us. Others might use brands that aren't as well recognised - the brand is important", Dale tells us.
"It's very busy at the moment", he says. "Both with new builds and people not going on cruises or taking trips. Since COVID, there's been an increase in spending on homes, and the retrofit market has been busier than usual, with people renovating and wanting new garage doors as part of that. Also, new builds have picked up significantly in Tauranga and the Western Bay. Lots of people are moving to Tauranga and we anticipate a surge of people leaving Auckland after what's happened with COVID".
With a central location on Koromiko Street, the business tends to get plenty of walk-in sales at the office where the staff is happy to help select remotes and other parts; someone is always available to assist from 8am-5pm. A depot wall outside displays all available panel profiles, so it's easy for people to swing past and take a look. Dale and Karina have noticed that their customers tend to do their research before contacting them. "People regularly have a look online then come in for a chat. If their situation isn't easy, they can talk over solutions," says Dale. "They'll say, 'I've seen this online, can you do this?'".
Above, left: Bronson (left) and Ralph. "Our chiefs of security take their jobs very seriously," says Karina "when people come in, they love interacting with them."; Right: The couple sponsors a race each year at Tauranga Races.
Environmental awareness is vital to the team at Dominator Tauranga. For example, any plastic wrap used to pack the doors for transport gets handed to various gift shops for reuse, and cardboard goes to the local school. In addition, old metal doors and leftover parts get recycled through a local metal recycling company. "We're always looking at opportunities where we can do a little bit more," Dale tells us.
They're also community- and family-focused, sponsoring a 5-a-side football team, a touch rugby team and various Rotary events. Christmas celebrations for the crew have included the sponsorship of a race at Tauranga Races for the last six years, an opportunity for everyone to let their hair down. Providing an income for staff and their families has real meaning for Karina and Dale. After having been through various financial crises, "We see it as a responsibility", says Dale. "We've got some really good staff, and we like interacting with them. We love taking time out for pizza nights and enjoy spending time with their partners at our Christmas function", Karina adds.
A recent before and after transformation by the team at Dominator Garage Door Centre Tauranga
We asked the couple what they love about their jobs. Interacting with customers and staff brings the most satisfaction for Karina, along with the social responsibilities of running a business. Dale likes being in control of his destiny, "It's not a franchise, so there's no one higher up the ladder to sign off, no third party to approve of business decisions. It does tend to be 24/7, but I can get out and about in the community and meet people. B&D is a great support, and the Dominator brand gets recognised. People see the sign written vans (a fleet of seven vans and three utes) and feel secure that it's a professional service - they can see who you are straight away. It would be hard to go and work for someone else".
Winning Dominator's National Account Service Delivery Award was a coup for the couple this year, who enjoyed a wee break in Queenstown catching up with other Dominator dealers at the conference. For the future, it's business as usual for Dale and Karina. "We'll carry on doing what we're doing," they both say, which from Dominator's point of view is 'Delivering exemplary service every time without exception'.
You can contact Dominator Garage Door Centre / Dominator Tauranga on Ph: 07 578 2912 or email email@example.com or visit them from 8am - 5pm weekdays at 15 Koromiko Street, Judea, Tauranga. Or find your local Dominator Dealer here.