When it comes to choosing where to spend our hard-earned money, most of us choose to support local businesses wherever possible. Especially those businesses that offer competitive prices, a great range of products, and experienced staff who provide friendly, efficient service and think nothing of going the extra mile for their customers. And when such a business is also involved in supporting the community in different ways, then success and longevity will inevitably follow.
This has certainly been the case for Richmond Office Products Depot, which has been in business for 25 years now – every single one of those years effectively under the same ownership. It all started 30 years ago when Paul Keenan left the company for which he had been working to join three colleagues in a new business, Richmond Business Equipment, which began by specialising in cash registers and photocopying machines. Paul’s area of expertise at that time was stationery, an area which the new business was keen to grow and as the invitation to join involved him becoming a business partner rather than an employee, it was an offer he couldn’t refuse.
Fast forward a few years and the business had to move premises because of the steady growth. It was at this point that Paul and Peter bought out two of their partners and soon afterwards made the decision to embark on purpose-built premises in McGlashen Avenue.
OPD Richmond, as they’re known to most of their customers, have been in this building for 15 years now and since Peter, their last business partner, retired three years ago Paul and his wife, Jodie, who looks after the administration of the business, are the sole owners. There are 29 member stores, all individually owned and located throughout New Zealand. OPD Richmond is the biggest furniture dealer in the group.
Paul and Jodie value the relationship they have not only with their staff, but also their customers. Paul likes to coordinate all aspects of the furniture business as well as look after his three sales account managers, who are kept busy covering Marlborough, Nelson, Richmond, Motueka and Golden Bay. Paul has a number of customers as far away as Gisborne and Invercargill – not to mention quite a few places in between. He is no stranger to the shop floor or packing bench, either. When things get busy, he’s down there helping out whenever an extra pair of hands is needed.
Given the longevity of some of the staff, it’s clear that OPD Richmond is a good place to work. “They just like coming in every day,” says Jodie, “which is great. They’re really passionate about what they do and the relationships they build with their customers. There’s a lot of loyalty out there in the community – we have customers who’ve been with us for 25 years.” It’s a very competitive industry but with good pricing and good relationships, particularly in this day and age where customer service has fallen away in a lot of areas, good customer service is one of our priorities.”
Service a priority
Paul firmly believes that the kind of customer service they offer is the foundation for their success. “When a customer calls, they don’t know they might be talking to one of the owners.” Jodie is quick to agree: “Customers think they are talking to our showroom staff, and we like it that way as it not only helps keep us involved in the day-to-day operations of the business, but also enables us to work alongside and at the same level as our staff.”
As for the range of products that OPD Richmond stocks, what’s on offer in the catalogue is just the tip of the iceberg. “We can get about 25,000 lines, everything from pens through to customised furniture,” says Paul, “but to sum up we do commercial stationery, business machines such as printers, office furniture, safety gear, packaging materials, cafeteria supplies and cleaning products.”
However, if a customer asks for something outside this range, they are only too happy to source it. And although the bulk of their business comprises commercial customers, they have a large number of small businesses and individuals which they enjoy taking
In the interests of giving their customers the best deal possible, OPD Richmond are about to launch a new initiative that will see them beating any competitor’s price by 5%. “We want people to know we can look after more of their needs than we currently do,” says Jodie, “especially now that many customers do so much of their ordering online.”
Proud community sponsors
It’s a light, bright building and the Keenans are particularly proud of the new interior cobblestone-look wall, which they recently commissioned a local artist to create to give the premises a unique look. The range of products is well displayed and it’s easy to move about between the aisles. “Electric or stand-up desks are a big thing at the moment,” says Paul.
Both Nelson people and proud of the fact that their business is local, Paul and Jodie are well known in the community for their generous sponsorship of Jack’s Netball, which they’ve been doing for 10 years now. “We also sponsor Nelson netball, volleyball and local college prize giving events,” adds Jodie. “And are happy to donate products for fund-raising, galas, and quiz nights.” Pillars (a national charity whose goal is to create a positive future for children and whanau of prisoners in New Zealand) is another organisation that benefits from their generosity. “It’s really lovely to hear the stories and to find out how much these children can grow with the help of
And have they grown out of the premises yet? Jodie laughs: “Did you notice the container out the back? We could do with a few more of them!”