The Chamber of Commerce is sitting down with each of the winners from the recent Waikato Chamber of Commerce Business Awards, supported by Foster Construction Group, to find out what they did to stand out from the crowd. This week's Winners’ Insight is with Profile Group CEO Craig Vincent. Profile Group won the Business Growth and Service Excellence Awards, as well as the Foster Construction Group Supreme Award.
If you’ve driven along the Waikato Expressway heading south, you’ll no doubt have noticed a sprawling building on the left-hand side at Hautapu, on the outskirts of Cambridge.
That is the manufacturing facility and headquarters of Profile Group – a family of powerhouse businesses that form New Zealand’s only integrated supply chain for aluminium windows and doors. It is the first stage of their new campus that will consolidate multiple Hamilton sites to one fully self-serviced location. But you wouldn’t know that the simple, yet striking building was home to Profile Group because its name is not emblazoned on the building.
Profile Group’s HQ is a physical manifestation of the way they do business: quietly, just getting on with it without making a fuss. And yet, like their building, Profile Group is an award winner.
While the building won two Excellence and Best in Category Awards at this year’s Property Council Industry Awards, Profile Group has taken out three awards at the Waikato Chamber of Commerce Business Awards – Service Excellence, Business Growth, and, fittingly, the Foster Construction Group Supreme Award.
CEO Craig Vincent says it’s been a journey of more than three decades to grow the business from the 12 staff who were there when he began working alongside, managing director and his good friend, Mitch Plaw.
Looking back at those early days, Craig says it was a simple philosophy that has driven the Group’s success.
“Our philosophy has always been that if we could be the easiest supplier our customers deal with, we will all naturally grow together.”
And it was that philosophy that saw Craig spend a great deal of time assisting their customers’ businesses back then, to ensure they understood their customers’ obstacles and challenges.
“That meant we really developed and nurtured the relationships too. We basically went and lived in their businesses. By going out and learning we worked out how to take the obstacles away, supply great quality product and end up with a great result.”
It was those early learnings that not only set up the lifelong relationships with their customers – “a large portion of them are personal friends today” – but set in motion the vertical integration of the business over the next 30 years.
“The pivotal move for us was taking away all the obstacles in terms of supply, manufacturing and delivery. By taking our reliance away from external suppliers… it now means we control our own supply chain with extrusions, powder coating, anodising, glass and transport.”
And it’s not just the relationships with their customers that Profile Group places great importance on. Their staff are key to their success. Because, while Profile Group’s growth has been enormous, at the end of the day it is still family-owned and -operated and those family values are an incredibly strong part of the culture.
“There are many, many people who come to work every day who feel they are part of a big family, and we like to believe they are treated that way,” Craig said.
“For example, we’ve just opened a wellness centre where a nurse provides care. We’ve got more to achieve but it’s about being able to provide a great environment, being able to take care of our people.”
That extends to staff members’ families too. They recently held a Christmas function for 600 people – that’s staff and partners – and there will be another Christmas party for the kids to attend.
Profile Group does a lot in the wider community too.
“Mitch and Kate (Plaw) are extremely generous individuals. The philosophy for us is about how we build better communities. We’ve been thinking this way for a long time, but I think it’s even more so now since Mikayla [Mitch and Kate’s daughter] has come on board. She has brought a different vision into the business that we’ve built on – sustainability, wellbeing, and the circular economy, for example.”
The business awards judges said Profile Group’s success was driven by an excellence of service ethos.
“Their structures, processes, and more importantly – people – set the standard for service excellence both nationally and internationally. The customer and their care is the centre of their world.”
And they recognised that Profile Group is on a journey to redesign how they do business, how they manufacture even more efficiently, how they reimagine and repurpose waste streams, regenerate the natural world and enable their people to realise their full potential across all facets of the businesses.
“Profile Group are world class roles models around future vision, long-term strategy, innovation and product design, operational execution, ongoing commitment and an ethos of genuine care for the people, community, Aotearoa and the environment.”
Craig said the Supreme Award was “for the staff”.
“It’s not for us [the executive team]. These awards are recognition of the effort of everyone who is here daily, their commitment and dedication.”
Profile Group’s sustainability executive Mikayla Plaw said entering the awards was about acknowledging and celebrating the hard work of the wider teams, “those from all walks of life that come in each day and ultimately work toward a mutual goal – to continuously raise the standard of manufacturing excellence.”
“This is no easy task and something we have reflected on over the past 12 months in particular as our oldest business, APL, celebrated 50 years. Moments of reflection remind you that there have been many ups and downs over the years, but perseverance, resilience, having real relationships and a strong foundation of trust will get you through. The awards submission process outlined these aspects of business to us as well. That process in itself was a really worthy exercise for the teams. We are certainly a business that is always looking forward, however you can never underestimate the power of reflection.
“Going up to receive the award that night with the team was a very proud moment for both Dad (Mitch) and I.”