EDITORIAL Grow and Tell

Spring is the season for growth so it seemed good time to check the Kiwi corporate garden and get few tips from those who have managed to cultivate their own version of the giant beanstalk – high growth companies whose tentacles curl confidently through local and offshore markets.
In this month’s cover story, Mark Story talks to some growth-focused nurturers including Navman’s Peter Maire, Pacific Print’s Geoff Wilding, Hellaby Holdings’ David Holdsworth and Briscoe Group’s Rod Duke about the obstacles and opportunities growth presents. Like any good gardener, they keep keen weather eye both on the specific needs of the plant and the vagaries of its external environment. They’ve also learned from their own and others’ experience.
Having watched few notable Kiwi companies flounder after making the leap across the Tasman, Wilding has opted for growth-through-acquisition strategy based on never settling for “second-best”. He is interested in acquiring firms with cashflow stability to provide firm foundation for further acquisitions.
Maire, on the other hand, is focused on staying nimble, stance that becomes harder to maintain as the company’s 100 percent year-on-year sales growth has meant suddenly adding more weight in terms of staff as well as gaining much wider global market spread.
But to keep flogging the garden analogy, its seems the best all-purpose fertiliser for growth is management capability. The shortage of this essential ingredient is described by ANZ’s head of integrated capital solutions, Joseph Healy, as the “single biggest risk factor facing growth companies”.
On that score, NZIM’s latest Management Capability Index (see page 22) offers some good news. While this is only the second take on measuring how management competencies translate into effective growth strategies for their organisations, it seems the collective MCI is headed in the right direction – up!
Getting the foundations for growth well sorted is particularly relevant for companies making the leap into the spotlight of public scrutiny that accompanies their initial public offering. We take look at organisational life after the IPO of four companies and find the transition from private to public goes lot more smoothly if the firms involved are already behaving like listed companies, in other words if they’ve done the preparatory work, instituted the necessary financial and audit systems and established robust governance structure.
On the latter issue, don’t forget to flip this month’s issue of Management over to read our November edition of The Director.

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