Get Set Events - Tracey Thompson

After spending two decades working in the Hire industry, Tracey discovered her true passion as the proprietor and leader of Get Set Events Taupo, a full hire member of HIANZ.

With a sterling reputation, the small business provides its services to large- and small-scale events alike, including the famous Ironman Triathlon events.  Through years of dedication, the company has built a long-standing relationship with the Ironman organisers, an event that has been a big part of the Tongariro North Domain and the Taupō community since 1999.

So how does such a small business land such a big deal?

Well, in a case of nothing ventured, nothing gained, they simply asked for the business. They now provide a wide range of products each year, from marquees to catering equipment, and decorations for prize-giving ceremonies. They also supply the necessary equipment for the volunteers’ dinner and other parts of the event.

Tracey is quick to note: “Other amazing hire companies supply equipment Get Set Events can’t provide,” and says the event needs a lot of coordination among a variety of businesses, which creates strong relationships within the community.

Edward Sound & Vision

From humble beginnings to a sound and audio-visual powerhouse

If the myths are to be believed, some of the most legendary Silicon Valley companies started in a garage: Apple, Google, Amazon.  So, it is only right that New Zealand has a few similar legendary beginnings of its own: enter stage right Edwards Sound Systems.

Started in the 1960s by Alastair Neil and Paul Edwards, the former was a bassist in a local band called the New Mystics. Playing live shows and recording albums gave Alastair a decent appreciation for good sound equipment. Add to that his ear for music, passion for sound, and talent for electronics and design – and you can imagine where this might lead. Paul’s Mt. Eden garage was the perfect location to handcraft amplifiers and speaker systems, which would then be installed in churches, schools and commercial venues by the same guys making them.  The rest, as they say, is history.

The new owner, Jonathan, followed in his dad’s footsteps – albeit, minus the band. He grew up working part-time in the business, building amplifiers during school holidays, working in the shop on Friday nights, and helping with the hire counter on Saturdays.

“We not only have a hire business, but we also have a sound and audio-visual installation business, so we reach across the different sectors of the industry and are well-known to professional sound, lighting and audio-visual suppliers.   “Having a hand in both businesses means that we stay ahead of trends and can anticipate where the market is heading.”

“The best day for us is when we see our customer’s vision brought to life – especially those complex events or installations that have stretched our thought processes.”

The team has since developed its own rental booking and management software, called Hirewin, designed around its sound system, lighting, AV and events requirements.

Interestingly, life in the events industry can move counter to the economic cycles, Jonathan says. So as the collective sound of belts tightening can be heard across the economy, corporates and organisations work on sales conferences, tradeshows, and training to maximise sales. This has proved a winning recipe for Edwards Sound, which has morphed a small family-run business into a diverse medium-range employer.

Lowes Hire & Engineering: More than just a hire centre

More often than not, a business springs up out of necessity and does exactly what it says on the tin for decades, but only the good ones become an integral part of its community.  Opotoki-based company Lowes Hire & Engineering Ltd is one such example: “so much more than just a hire centre”.

They’ve got the accolades to prove it too; in October, the company was recognised at the jointly held New Zealand-Australia Network Conference on the Gold Coast for its decades-long service to Hydraulink.  The cherry on top of that award was another one for Lowes: Sales Growth (%) North Island – a far cry from the humble days in 1981 when Grant and Raewyn Lowe first set up shop with Grant’s brother and wife.

The business is now run by the new generation of Lowes, Jamie and his two brothers Andrew and Matt after their parents built “the business into the beast it is today”.  It was a natural progression for the family, especially after the brothers spent most of their lives in and round the business, “even if it’s just doing dishes in the afternoons after school”.

“Mum and Dad have worked their whole lives to build this business, so taking over the business was just sort of a natural progression for us brothers. And keep it in the family, I think our parents were quite pleased with that call,” Matt says.

Expanding from their little building on King Street in the middle of the surf-town destination into a well-established retail, hire and engineering specialist on Bridge Street, they’ve got most of the East Cape’s needs covered.

Supplying a range of different products for agencies like Honda, Kohler and Husqvarna means their catalogue is varied. Marquees make up a decent chunk of the business too but hiring out porta-loos and mini-buses is their bread and butter.

Despite Opotiki’s perceived “small town” status, its industries are diverse and keep the Lowes on their toes. The kiwifruit, dairy and forestry industries are always in need of equipment and specialist support.

Officially taking over just over a year ago, the brothers first set about streamlining and modernising the company’s software. “That was a major,” Jamie says.

Obviously, Grant still popped in and out to help with the more technical jobs. But now the Lowes are building on the success of their parents by bolstering the team with hardworking like-minded individuals.  “You can’t argue that what they were doing wasn’t working, so we didn’t want to change too many things,” Matt says. “We’re just glad we can keep it family-owned and operated for another generation; there’s not too many businesses around like that these days.”

X-Site - Masters of own destiny

X-Site Owner and Founder Hamish Lamb is the master of his destiny, and his passion to meet and exceed his customers’ expectations is what fuels his passion. What he actually said was: “You’re the master of your own demise if you don’t do it well, but you’re also the benefactor of your success. Fortunately, we’ve been the latter.”

It is that belief system that has led him and his team to grow the business over 31 years into one of New Zealand’s largest privately owned marquee and infrastructure hire companies.  X-Site now boasts 17 staff and can supply marquees from 3m x 3m to 25m x 55m. Come to events like National Fieldays, X-Site erects more than 15,000m2 of marquees, meaning they cover about three rugby pitches in marquee canvas.

Funnily enough, X-Site got its start at Fieldays back in 1992. As Matangi Landscape Supplies, he provided a service to local ‘DIY-ers’ and then later to the agricultural event, supplying all manner of landscaping supplies and services to exhibitors.

Changing tack, landscaping took a backseat and X-Site Management was born in 2000 to focus on exhibitors’ sites and other events throughout the country.

Sixteen years later, and multiple business purchases later, marquee hire and infrastructure and design and build installations became a mainstay for Hamish.

“We’ve worked bloody hard over those 31 years, but at the same time we do it well, so I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve accomplished (now with my wife Donna) over the last 12 years,” Hamish says.

Other than hard graft, Hamish puts a lot of his success down to a passionate team – who helped the business see out the event industry’s devastation during COVID-19 – and developing lasting relationships.

The horizon looks promising for X-Site as it looks for more opportunities to grow – including a recent pitch for the 2024 ITM Taupō Supercars event set to hit our shores in April next year – which he was awarded just a couple of weeks ago.