Success all wrapped up, thanks to mentor
Success all wrapped up, thanks to mentor

An Auckland packaging business is popping with success thanks to new clients, new jobs and support from a volunteer business mentor. 

Specialising in the manufacture of plastic foam and bubble wrap, Nulon Foam, was bought by Mark Dowling 18-months ago.

Despite his lack of experience in manufacturing or packaging, Mark has managed to turn the business around, winning new contracts and creating two new jobs. 

What Mark may lack in experience, he makes up for in energy and ambition with plans to double the size of the business by March 2018.

“It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster ride for me, I’ve learnt a lot, but I’m now in a position where I’m ready to grow the business further and expand my offering,” he said. 

With a background in marketing and professional services, Mark was more used to wearing a suit and tie to work and despite his great relationship with the previous owners, he realised he needed some support in order to achieve his growth plans and make a success of Nulon Foam. 

“I bought the business because I could see where I could add value but quickly realised I had a lot to learn.”

Looking for help, Mark got in touch with Business Mentors New Zealand. The not-for-profit organisation matches business owners looking to grow, or with a problem to tackle, with a volunteer business mentor.

“I was quite specific in the sort of person I needed but Business Mentors put me in touch with Brian and he turned out to be a perfect match - just what I and the business needed.”

Brian Slingsby met with Mark and was more than happy to share his 40 years of experience in the packaging manufacturing industry. They’ve now been meeting every week for the past eight months.

“Although I have my dad supporting me, he doesn’t always give me the kick up the backside I need. Brian holds me accountable, keeps me focused and ensures the actions we’ve discussed previously are being carried out.

“I’m sometimes so involved in running the business that I struggle to see beyond the day-to-day, he helps me plan 18 months into the future and a big part of the success the business is currently enjoying is thanks to him,” said Mark.

Although retired, Brian has worked across four countries and sees mentoring as a way of keeping engaged and passing his experience on. 

“Mentoring keeps the grey matter going and in Mark and Nulon Foam I’ve found the perfect business with which to share my knowledge. 

“His business is sound and focused on quality and service. Mark has a lot of great ideas, I’m just there to point him in the right direction, prioritise these ideas and act as a sounding board.

“There is a lot more come from Mark’s business and I’m excited to see how it develops in the future,” said Brian.

Business Mentors New Zealand is a not-for-profit organisation that, through an experienced team of volunteers provides guidance and support to SMEs looking to succeed. For a small administration fee, the team at Business Mentors can match businesses with a team of more than 2,000 volunteer business mentors throughout New Zealand. 

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