The Warkworth team, from left, Bonnie Davis, Joye Martin, Lathem Broadstock, Cathy McHoull, Phil Lawson, Geoff Henry, Peter Paget and Jodie Clarke (John Bass absent).
In a year of unprecedented challenge for business, it’s a rare and welcome thing to hear of a major new project not only surviving, but thriving. But that’s just what happened with the building of the new PlaceMakers Warkworth store, which managed to come in on budget and ahead of schedule, despite the lengthy Covid-19 shutdown just after work started.
Branch manager Lathem Broadstock says the success in getting the new 1800 square metre store and 3600 square metre yard up and open on time lies squarely with the team of local contractors who made it happen.
“It was unreal,” he says. “Covid happened and we were sitting there saying are we going to be able to do this, but through all the process, it just ran all ahead of time. Even PlaceMakers general manager says he has never seen a project run so smoothly.”
The new store opened as planned on September 7, with all the building materials, tools, hardware, electrical and plumbing equipment, fixtures and fittings that a tradie or serious DIYer could wish for.
Lathem says his team of nine is keen to help the increasing number of customers who are finding their way to the new store at the top of Morrison Drive.
“We’re massively trade-focused, but love retail,” he says. “We’ve had a lot of foot traffic here already.”
PlaceMakers Warkworth consists of a shop selling such items as hardware, tools and paint at the front, a large drive through trade hall full of plasterboard sheets, panelling, cladding, doors and so on behind that, and a vast outdoor yard with timber and building materials at the rear. Larger fixtures, such as kitchens, bathrooms, laundries, wardrobes and water tanks, can be ordered in. The building has clear ceiling panels and LED lights to save energy and recycles water from the roof for toilets and outdoor taps.
The sheer size of the site came as a surprise to Lathem, who previously managed the much smaller PlaceMakers at Mangawhai, and the Silverdale branch before that.
“It’s a huge site, I was absolutely amazed at the size. They’ve future-proofed it to allow us to expand,” he says. “Walking into here the first time, I said is this for us? You could land a plane in here. I was like a kid on Christmas Day.”
Lathem says that while Silverdale is a similar size, Warkworth has a much bigger yard.
“We’re almost a distribution centre here, we have all the big bulk packs of timber come in here and can ship it from here.”
He says Placemakers’ strength is the range of products it can source and its ability to cater to trade customers in ways that make their lives easier.
“What I love is our access to product. We’re not a big box store like Bunnings or Mitre 10 Mega, but our ability to access products is huge and our suppliers can get it to us fast,” he says.
There are now Smart Delivery phone apps and QR codes in place that mean tradies can check stock and availability instantly online, order what they want, see when it’s been picked, collect their goods and pay without even having to leave their vehicle.
“Builders don’t like queuing, so we’re giving them technology to speed up the processes and remove those barriers,” Lathem says.
PlaceMakers Warkworth is at 64 Morrison Drive, Warkworth and opens from 7am to 5pm from Monday to Friday, and 8am to 1pm on Saturday. It is closed on Sundays.
Team effort inspires gratitude
PlaceMakers Warkworth branch manager Lathem Broadstock is planning a big barbecue at the new store – Covid restrictions permitting – as a thank you to the many local people who helped get the store up and running. “Everyone was amazing,” he says. “There were so many of them – Coresteel, Davco, Dobbyn Builders, Wharehine … all great people. Bevan Morrison – that man was on a broom sweeping, he even brought in his own vacuum cleaner; he really cares. And I saw Grant Dobbyn go round and thank all of his team for their work every day. It was all so positive.” He said he wanted to thank everyone involved, from key contractors to subbies, as well as PlaceMakers itself. “It looked very uncertain with Covid, but the company never backed away from it. In fact, they employed more people and more contractors,” Lathem said. “Money wasn’t an issue, it was ‘how many people can we have on site?’ to get it all done.”