CEO Dan Heyworth takes us through the new thinking he and his partners put into Box to reshape the way designer houses are built in New Zealand.
Like most reinvention stories, Box was born of frustration. Rather than the satisfying creative experience it should be, Dan describes the old model of design and construction as being tricky and fraught. "Everyone knows architects are amazing at what they do. Creative people are optimists – they think, I'm sure we can make this work. Well, builders are the opposite. In the end, the client pays for architect's mistakes and builder's mistakes. Cost creates all the friction."
In 2011 Dan Heyworth and the team who are now his partners at Box, took at good hard look at the pain points around architect-designed houses. They were all involved in the architecture, construction and building industries at the time.
"If you ask my Mum she'll tell you I always liked taking things apart and putting them back together. Pretty much that's what we've done at Box."
Box broke down the barriers and brought all of the talent - architects, builders, designers, project managers, estimators - into one big family, under one roof. They quickly proved that with all of the disciplines working together they could build their modernist houses faster and cheaper and most importantly, without conflict because like Dan says, "there’s only one person to point the finger at during the whole process."
The beautiful houses Box creates are focussed on design and architecture but with a solid pragmatic vein running through them. That approach manages to save clients a heap of money. As Dan points out "You'd never go to Ferrari and ask them to design you a one-off car, so we use similar detailing and same parts from house to house. For instance, most of our windows are full height so we already know how to detail that."
"Our main goal, the one that keeps us awake at night is how we can bring down the cost of an industry that is so wasteful."
Once Box had a couple of good reviews in magazines, the business grew really quickly. They were doubling in size every year which was great but came with its own challenges – they needed to double their overdraft to fund it and their old bank was not playing ball.
"Being more entrepreneurial-minded Kiwibank resonated with us so we went to see them. They had no problem with the loan so we jumped ship and we never looked back."
Since then, their Kiwibank Business Manager, Adam Day, has become an essential part of the business. They catch up every quarter and go over the numbers. "He coaches us through stuff. They’ve got a real interest in seeing us grow and show us the performance measures they want to see. I like to think that they're the industry shaper and disruptors and we're in the same boat."
Six years later Box has 35 staff and no plans to stop disrupting their market. They've recently leased an old yacht factory and by the end of the year want to be pre-fabricating half their jobs there. Building in a supervised controlled environment means building in half the time, with guaranteed quality, and amazing results which they're pretty excited about.
Ultimately the evidence for the success of the Box idea is spread around the Auckland landscape. Elegant, well-made homes their clients enjoy every day. As Dan says,
"There's nothing more satisfying than to have your idea grow and blossom and take on a life of its own."
When Kiwi businesses join Kiwibank, Kiwibank joins them - we know that when it comes to the goal that keeps you awake at night, it's not just business, it's personal.