EziBuy co-founder and Te Aho Tāmaka leader Gerard Gillespie was on to something great when he moved to Manawatū and, with co-founders Peter Gillespie and John Robinson, established the iconic EziBuy.
We sat down with Gerard to hear about the decisions and thinking that led them to such success here in Palmerston North, and why Manawatū is still a great place to invest and build business today.
You moved to Palmerston North in 1978 – what made you decide to set up EziBuy in Manawatū?
Family brought me to Manawatū, my brother Peter was already based here and was in the retail business. For us, the central location was key, as we needed a central distribution hub as well as a reliable workforce, both of which are something that Manawatū has always been able to provide.
Do you feel this still applies today, and would you encourage a business to set up here now?
Yes, definitely, on both counts. There is an ease to doing business here, and lower costs. Overheads are cheaper here than in a lot of bigger centres. It is also a great city for family, with an excellent environment that provides all sorts of opportunities and activities for families.
You were passionate and innovative in your business approach, tell us more about why this mindset is important in business.
You have to be competitive to succeed in business, and always be thinking of how you can improve. Being innovative will keep you ahead of the competition.
What would you say to a business owner looking to move here or start up in Manawatū?
The market here is very consistent as there is such a solid base of employers in the region, both in central government, education, research, defence, as well as the farming and agritech industries. Our region doesn’t suffer same the highs and lows of other regions.
What excites you about the future of Manawatū and what opportunities do you see for business here?
COVID-19 has made a lot of businesses and government agencies reflect on how they function, and whether they actually need to be based in Wellington or Auckland. Having a good city for bringing up family, with schools, sport, health services and job prospects is important for companies when setting up or trying to entice people to come and work for them. And Palmerston North and Manawatū has this in spades.
Gerard has played an integral role in the business and non-profit sectors of Manawatū over the last 50 years, as co-founder of EziBuy, co-owner of Max Fashions, on the board of Tui Products, as a director for Palmerston North Airport, a Regional Advisory Committee Member if the NZ Community Trust and so much more.