After nearly 12 years in business, it felt like time for Trafalgar Painting to upgrade their image. The Nelson-based marine painting and asbestos removal business had carved out a successful niche for themselves, but were not as polished as they wanted to be.
The problem for founders Joe Szentpeteri and Mark Sellars was that as typical small-business owners, consumed with the business of making money and keeping people in work, they did not have the time, energy or the knowledge to rebrand.
Winning a $15,000 Z Business Makeover, with support from the creative consultancy Shine, has made all the difference. Trafalgar is now in the process of launching an all-new website, signage and branding, which will showcase their brand values to a much larger audience.
“For me it was an eye opening exercise,” says Joe. “I hadn’t appreciated the importance of how people see you, how you see yourself and using a logo which is synonymous with what you’re trying to sell.”
Being able to call on advisors from outside the business for advice was invaluable, he says. “We were conflicted around what that logo should be and were unsure what it would look like, so there was a real benefit in having someone from outside the fishbowl looking in and offering advice.”
This is exactly what Z Business was aiming to achieve with the makeover prize, says Divya John, Senior Marketing Manager - Business. “We created the business makeover competition to support a SME beyond our core product as we know that marketing can be both overwhelming and expensive for SMEs who often don’t have a dedicated marketing person or team.”
Joe is excited to launch the new branding, to differentiate Traflagar from its competitors and to better reflect the values of the people who work there. Wife Raewyn is the administrator, daughter Jess is in charge of health and safety, and after eight years with the business, marine and commercial manager Nathan Town, a minority shareholder, is like family too.
When the business was founded, Joe and Mark aimed to take a cleaner approach to an industry that tends to be a bit scruffy around the edges. “There is a definite undercurrent to our business,” says Joe. “Typically the cars are covered in paint and the guys are in paint-covered clothing. We have bright, shiny cars with good signwriting and employees we invest in, who are aware of health and safety and their environmental footprint.”
In addition to new customers, the Trafalgar team are hoping to attract new employees. At the moment they have 23 people on staff, but that can rise to 30 in busy periods, such as summer, when many commercial boats are pulled out of the water for maintenance.
“A lot of people come into this industry straight out of school or as a stepping stone into other employment because it's pretty rough and ready, with long hours,” says Joe. “I think they were getting chewed up and spat out and getting pretty disillusioned. We were more interested in taking a longer term approach and training people up. We wanted to show them there is more to it than picking up a paintbrush and busting rust all day.”
Thanks to their new image and their experience, the team at Trafalgar expect a busy and productive summer, following a year that has been uniquely challenging. “We’re looking ahead, and we’re feeling really positive.”