Posted in: General
Published: 01 Dec 2021
Thirty years is a long time for any relationship, but workmates Richard Malster and Leanne Halls think nothing of three decades working together at Omega Garage Doors in New Plymouth. The two have been the mainstay of Omega Garage doors almost since school and they see no reason for that to change any time soon. Initially, both worked for the original owner Vern Newall who started the business in 1968. On Vern's retirement, the pair took the business over in 2014.
Back in the day when Richard started as a garage door installer, tilt doors and roller doors were all the rage and sectional garage doors didn’t yet exist. Richard now finds he's replacing doors he installed many years ago with better functioning sectional garage doors. "Some of them you remember some you don’t", Richard tells us. "Yesterday I serviced a garage door at the first house I ever went to when I started with Vern". In those days, every garage door was made on-site and the same workshop has been in operation for 35 years. The Saltash Street location on the outskirts of New Plymouth's CBD works well for access to job sites in all directions and has been there so long that customers know where to drop by for a chat. A modest but ample showroom has sample panels and an interactive Aspen with a VL panel window in colour Windsor Grey for customers to test drive. "I love interacting with customers", Leanne tells us. After so many years in the game, she has a lot of knowledge, including that which she learned during a stint 'on the tools' as an installer. Leanne is based in the office these days, taking charge of quoting, scheduling and the walk-in customers. "It's very relaxed. It doesn’t really feel like you’re selling", she says. "Lots of customers come back after years. 'Oh it’s so nice to see you’re still here', they say".
Richard's duties cover most of the site measures and fabrication work including building tilt doors in the workshop, along with payroll and general management. The small but industrious team includes installation and servicing crew Alan and Jason. Even though both men have long term experience (Alan 15 years, Jason 8 years), they always carry out garage door installations as a team in the interest of safety.
Together the four colleagues know their jobs well and while Richard is no longer a regular on installations, the ability to crossover exists. "We comfortably get through the jobs without having to work ridiculous hours", says Richard. "The installers work 8 hours a day and even with the amount of work around at present, they get it done because they're efficient at what they do. They install 3-4 garage doors plus repairs in a normal day - they can do it with their eyes closed basically”.
A selection of shed and industrial door installations and top right, the team at Omega, left to right: Alan, Leanne, Richard and Jason.
Garage door installations on new builds keep the team busy through contracts with group home building companies and with shed and garage builders. Working relationships with the builders have been fine-tuned for efficiency over the years. "We’ve educated them on what we need, they know what’s required. You turn up on the job and fixings are where they need to be, the garage is cleared out and there’s room to do our job". Like most areas in the country, there has been a noticeable building increase across the board throughout the Taranaki region. “It’s unbelievable the number of new homes being built in Taranaki, there are subdivisions popping up everywhere", Richard notes. The team covers all of Taranaki from Mokau to Whanganui, Waverley and everywhere between, with services including new installations, retrofitted garage doors, repairs, upgrades and servicing.
Group home builders with their house and land packages offer tough competition for single builders, who will generally provide renovation services or work in smaller towns instead. Richard tells us that it's fairly common for family businesses in Taranaki to be handed down through generations. "The smaller builders we've worked alongside for years are now second generation," he says. "We were dealing with their fathers now we're dealing with sons that have taken over the business". However, that hasn't been the case with his own family - yet. Richard's four offspring all work at their own careers, but the door isn't closed to new generations of Garador dealers in the family. "I have a five-year-old grandson. I might train him up to be the next generation", Richard smiles.
We asked Richard and Leanne what has kept them in the garage door industry for 30 years. “I'm too lazy to look for something else”, Richard jokes. But really, "It’s just a good job because you’re not in the same place every day, you’re always out somewhere. Vern was a really good employer who treated us well, so there was no incentive to leave. You were treated as part of the family so to speak".
"And we've carried that feeling on", Leanne adds. "Everyone gets on really well together. You have your moments, but not often. It is a family affair, basically. While my kids were young, I could pick them up and do their sports drop-offs without a problem. We haven't changed anything from the way the business was originally run, it has all worked well and our customers keep coming back".
"You need to be flexible because everyone has a life outside of work", notes Richard. "If someone has something personal going on in their life that comes first, everyone else just carries on".
Support from Garador's parent company B&D is instrumental to the day to day success of the business. "Our BDM Lincoln is incredible, nothing is a problem and we can ring him any time". Richard highly rates Garador's products, saying, "I think they're the best on the market. Sometimes we’ll fit a competitor’s product because the customer has bought it and the boys come back and say 'I don’t ever want to fit one of those again!'”.
Looking to the future, the pair are happy to continue as they always have done, offering straight up, good service. "We try to offer the best service that we can. Treating someone the way you want to be treated is the norm for us", says Leanne, adding, "Richard is just a great person to work with, very easy going and everyone is treated the same. We're all lucky to have each other". "We have loyal staff that work well together", adds Richard. "And Taranaki is a great place to live", he says, "I've lived here all my life. I've never wanted to live anywhere else and a lot of the people I know are the same".
You can find Omega Garage Doors at 3 Saltash St, Vogeltown in New Plymouth, or contact by phone on 06 753 3700 or via their website. Find your local Garador dealer from more than 30 nationwide localities here.Back to articles
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