25 Years of ITM Nationwide
25 Years of ITM Nationwide
A “great Kiwi can-do story”
In the beginning:
ITM was formed in 1991 in the belief that independently owned businesses “could not only survive, but thrive when they combined their efforts”. Back then, recalls Kevin Marevich, “it was difficult for even well-established independents to get a competitive deal”. Marevich and a handful of like-minded independents set out to change that status quo and create a level playing field, not just for new and developing stores but, in a reasonably short time, to help other well-established independents get on an even footing. Store numbers grew steadily, even though ITM back then was still to some extent working “under the radar”. “We took the industry by stealth,” says Marevich with a grin. “The competition didn’t take us too seriously until it was too late and by then the horse had bolted”.
Growing the ITM brand:
Gordon Buswell became the CEO for “Phase 2” of the plan. This involved building a brand that was exciting (thanks to the ITM Fishing Show, the ITM Cup and the ITM 500), had personality (thanks to the faces of the members in every TV commercial), credibility and integrity in the eyes of customers, members and suppliers. A turning point came in 2008 when Carters and PlaceMakers purchased 11 ITM member stores, leaving a sizable hole in ITM’s turnover. By then armed with a very compelling value proposition, Buswell and ITM’s reaction was to sign up the most successful unaligned independents (many of which make up ITM’s backbone today) and in the process rebuild the turnover by much more than it had lost. Says Gordon Buswell today: “Some thought that ITM might not survive after that attack but in fact it gave us the opportunity to bring in new blood, more stores and build more turnover, I think it was a signal to the industry that ITM was well and truly here to stay”.
Looking to the future:
Current CEO Scott Duncan’s role is about consolidating on ITM’s achievements and “setting ourselves to be a multi-generational, long-term success in the building industry and the trade in particular”. Duncan intends to keep it simple and focus on three things. To continue to sell well – have great relationships with the trade, and to build on that through the value that ITM provides. To continue to buy well – build strong, loyal relationships with preferred suppliers and to focus in on how ITM operates as a network.
This involves helping ITM store owners operate to the best of their abilities so they are getting the benefits of scale when it comes to running their operations as well as they possibly can, for the benefit of their customers and themselves. Looking to the future, Duncan says “as a group we will be continually evolving and changing so that we are better tomorrow than we are today. Everyone knows that you need to change to deal with the market we’re in and to deal with the opportunities in front of us. As with all things, however, it’s more about the pace of change than the need for change – not too fast, not too slow…”
One thing that ITM will continue to be is “Independent but united – one of the great things about ITM is that the members are local owner operators with skin in the game but they are also united on those things that really matter. It’s a great Kiwi can-do story,” says Scott Duncan.