Category Archives: Case Studies

Mr Rental

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Mr Rental


The Business

Mr Rental Auckland Central and East is a  franchise of the Mr Rental organisation.

Mr Rental rents a range of domestic household appliances, ranging from whiteware such as fridges and washers, through to brownware such as televisions and sound systems. In addition, Mr Rental also rents a range of fitness equipment, computers, and has recently started to rent furniture.

Our customers include lower socio-economic households, through to students and young professionals in shared accommodation. We also support professional relocations, and (typically short-term) rentals into the business market.

Our key differentiator is service. Our goal is to provide great products and superb service, delivered by a happy and motivated team, supporting a business that is profitable for all stakeholders.


When I joined the programme 2 years ago, the business was meeting its financial targets, but it was largely on the strength of the personal effort I was putting into the operational side, and my willingness to shoulder responsibility for every issue we had. Our biggest problem was me!

My involvement with The Breakthrough Company programme has resulted in a radical re-evaluation of the team we had in place, my relationship with them, and their willingness and ability to accept responsibility for their own actions. This wasn’t a painless exercise; without deliberately targeting this, every team member has been replaced over the last 18 months. However, what we have now is a happy, motivated and confident team.

Achievements with the Programme

Other than some well defined operational responsibilities, primarily around compliance, finances and capital management, I now have little involvement in the day to day operations of the business. My major involvement with the team is now training; as situations arise that I have experience or knowledge that the team may not, my first strategy is to now treat it as a training opportunity, rather than something I should shoulder myself. This is great for both the team and me; they are constantly growing, and the more they grow, the less the operational details need me.

I am now confident in demanding the best, providing whatever assistance is needed to get there, but dealing decisively with those who were not willing or capable of operating at this level. The rewards are immeasurable, not only to myself and my family, but to the team as a whole.

This has given me back a personal life, and my wife and I no longer feel chained to the business. It is now working for us rather than the other way round. Having shed myself of the operational details, it has given me the freedom to think on a more strategic level; the opportunities that are out there, how we could target them, and getting the tools and processes in place to realise them. It has also given us the space to think about what we personally want to achieve over the next few years, which is our next major step.

Coach Bruce Ross, Mike Ashby and The Breakthrough Company programme have been a huge part of this journey, and I can’t imagine that I would have achieved any of this without the direction the programme has given me.

Cheal Consultants

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Cheal Consultants



Cheal Consultants is a multidisciplinary consultancy that offers expertise in resource management planning, cadastral and construction surveying, structural, civil, geotech and project management engineering. We now have a Health and Safety division which assists our clients and contractors to work better and safer.

Our vision: ” To be recognised as a National Leader in the sustainable development of our Environment.”


We had to change. We were deeply into land development and could see the writing on the wall. We had other skills and projects but the pressure on us with development was crushing us. We had no time to do anything else but work. Luckily we found The Breakthrough Company and Mike Ashby during this period of change.

Our focus was present day not the future – where the company was going. Goal setting was the greatest asset which allowed us to look to the future and work towards it. We have now shifted from the heavy workload of land development to other areas of work that minimised our risk in the work place. It also created a better work place with new opportunities for staff and the company.

Mike Ashby helped us realise that we could change, that it was possible and in fact easier than we thought. Managing change was another thing and The Breakthrough Company gave us support in challenging us to think about how we could change. This has continued to elevate us to a new level.

Achievements with the programme

My personal achievement from the programme is that I have now the confidence to stand back from the day to day business and see where the company was going and what I must do to help it get there. Setting goals allowed me to focus on what was around me and set up two branch offices.

Avon Engineering

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Avon Engineering


Avon Engineering is a small engineering company in Gore that manufactures alloy jet boats for recreation and commercial use. They also build race boats and export predominately to Europe and Asia.

Prior to working with The Breakthrough Company, they had great turnover but no profits.

The turning point for Dwayne and Gillian Terry was the realisation that they were going to sink themselves if they didn’t do something.

Joining the Owner Operator Programme was done with some hesitation. They had to factor in fees, travel, and time commitments. However it didn’t take long for them to see the results of their investment. The fee, travel and time commitments made them take the programme seriously and put what they were learning into practice.

Within 6 to 12 months of being part of the programme, there were two big breakthroughs which turned the business around. Both of these stemmed from the Action Group that Dwayne was involved in. Sharing business issues, commitments and successes with a group of business peers is powerful and empowering.

Lean. Dwayne had never heard about Lean Manufacturing until one of the members of the group talked about a course they had just done. After listening to the process and results, Dwayne enrolled in a Lean Manufacturing Course and made significant changes to his operation.

Confidence. A huge amount of support, encouragement and belief is built in Action Groups, and it was here that Dwayne gained the confidence and vision to borrow a huge amount of money to build a much bigger and well needed workshop. In Dwayne’s words “I would not have done it without the confidence from the programme, we would have just carried on plodding along”.

Fast forward 12 to 18 months into the programme, not long after the new factory was built, Dwayne and his team won a $1.3M contract to build 5 commercial tour boats for China. A contract they could never have taken on without the new workshop.

Today, Avon Engineering is enjoying great turnover AND great profit. There’s an opportunity on the horizon for Dwayne to move to China and take up equity in a Chinese company to further build alliance with this burgeoning market.


SP Blinds

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SP Blinds

“When I take something on, I take it on”

Nurit Zubery

Meeting with Nurit Zubery, Managing Director of SP Blinds was an inspirational experience.

A short wait in the reception area gave me good insight into what SP Blinds stood for: Professional, Precise, Sustainable and Reliable. This was reflected in how beautifully designed this area was, so uncluttered, crisp, and informative. Their clients are designers, architects, and retailers, and they undertake large commercial projects. Proud displays of recent work, from sun shade blinds on super yachts, to acoustic absorbent blinds in award winning glass buildings lined the walls. They are also CarboNZero certified, and this led to them securing a huge commercial project in the Westpac Charter House, which is a 5 star Green Building.

Nurit greeted me with a warm smile, and we undertook a tour of the premises. The production area was equally impressive. Everything was clean, labelled and organised. A central feature was the “testing” rack, where all blinds were thoroughly checked before being despatched. Quality control was paramount. Nurit told me how there were four production staff when they bought the business ten years ago, and still just four today. Under their management, turnover has more than quadrupled in that time.

Talking with Nurit, I quickly got the feeling that she does not do things that are easy. Her background includes serving in the Israeli Army and she was a lawyer for some time. Now as a business owner, she still thrives on the same passion for challenge and excellence. She joined our Owner Operator Programme just over a year ago, because she knew it wouldn’t be easy. In the last year SP Blinds have established branches in Christchurch and Wellington, developed four new products, implemented a new CRM system and written a 65 page sales manual. On asking how she coped with taking so much on at once, she replied “It all needed to happen, and when I take something on, I take it on. I get unreasonable with myself and find ways to cope and achieve”.

This sheer determination has not been developed as a result of the programme, but the programme has provided Nurit with tools that have helped her prioritise and focus on the big stuff. I had already noticed that one of our Goal Getter books was at the hub of her desk. It turns out this was not placed there for my benefit but is the driving factor in managing her day. She went as far as to say that she had become addicted to her Goal Getter. It helps her focus on one big thing, ensuring she does something towards it every day, and avoid getting distracted by the smaller and easier tasks.

Nurit knows that if she did not have this focus, she would not be able to do the things she values, like leaving work at 2.30 every day to go and get her girls from school. Choosing to do this over hiring a nanny was not an easy decision, in fact she said it was the harder choice to leave her business so she could collect her girls, but knew she would regret not making this decision later on.

Nurit has pushed herself to indulge in a personal interest of hers. She has always liked singing, so she joined a singing class earlier this year, well aware that she really did not need any more things to do in her life. She found the process enormously useful, and of all the tough things Nurit has done in her life, she found this the most difficult. “Nothing got close to the difficulty of singing in public” she said. After declining an invitation to participate in a public performance, one week out from the show, she decided to do a duet with her daughter. The driving force to her last minute change of mind was something Dr Mike Ashby said at a recent workshop, “Get outside yourself – take on a stretch goal”.

At the time of the concert Nurit’s partner was celebrating a milestone birthday, so as a surprise Nurit and her daughter chose to sing his favourite song “The Sound of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel. They performed in front of a crowd of about 100 – no music, and no microphone to hold or hide behind…. Just them, standing on the stage, “naked” as she put it. I have seen the YouTube clip, and I have to say, Nurit’s partner should be a very proud man. It was beautiful.

I asked her what got her through, what niggled in her head every time she thought about backing out. She said “I don’t like giving up, and I keep my word”.

Nurit’s determination would see her succeed in anything (especially if it’s hard), so I asked her why she joined the programme. She simply said “The programme puts pressure on me; it holds me accountable at a higher level”. She has no doubt their business would still be successful without the programme, but to ensure she makes the additional changes and growth, she has needed an external push.

One of Nurit’s big drivers is her Action Group. “It’s really easy to be too busy for the Action Group meetings, but they are not like the workshops where you learn something new, they ensure good habits. They provide perspective and insight, and an opportunity to share useful information”. She was recently looking for a new telco provider and had great feedback from the group on their individual experience, so it saved her hours on research. The group Nurit belongs to is across the other side Auckland and at 7.30am, but she goes because she likes the challenge of getting herself there, and not giving up.

I well overspent my time with Nurit and I am so grateful to her for sharing her story. We all know she had no spare time in her day for me; she knew it would not be easy to give up this time and that’s why she did it.

By Wendy Taylor, Membership Manager

Soar Print

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Soar Print


Managing Director Fred Soar of Soar Printing, a third-generation printing business based in Auckland, has grown his family business from strength to strength. Even with a highly capable and experienced management team around him, Fred recognises the value in working with The Breakthrough Company to gain clarity and accountability.


Soar Print is a complete, end-to-end printing services company, supplying commercial printing to some of New Zealand’s leading companies. We use the latest printing technologies to deliver the best possible results for our clients. We are industry leaders in minimising our environmental impact and we are committed to serving not-for-profits in our community.


The business was reaching the stage where I needed to work more on the systems of the company than doing the technical jobs to take it to that next level. I was bringing in most of the sales and trying to manage the company at the same time. I was the bottleneck because everything came through me so I was the constraint, and I didn’t have much time for my family due to my work schedule. I envisioned that if these issues were left unresolved, then the business would reach as large as it could go due to my limited resources and missed opportunities.

Achievements with the programme

I met Mike through my business coach in the 1990s and I’ve been involved with Mike ever since. Prior to running the family business, I worked for about five years in corporate. When you’re your own boss and you lose that direction and critique from above, it can be very lonely. My aim for joining the programme was to get more advice and more clarity about what I was doing.

Three years ago, I encouraged three of my staff to join the course: one of the directors and two of our key staff. This benefited the business because they understood where I was coming from and we were able to align our visions. My staff look forward to the day out of the office and they come back motivated. They’ve developed good networks with their action groups. It gives us all is an open mind and the ability to change the way that we do business, and not get stuck in a rut. We’re after sustainability and longevity, which in the print industry is difficult and it’s important that we find and embrace the challenges and changes. And having a team that’s dynamic and understands that is what helps us get through it.

The Challenger Programme makes me accountable. It’s set up in such a way that I’m setting goals and measuring myself against those goals. We meet every three months and get realigned with the goals, take the time to look from the outside in and get clarity on where I’m going.

Mike is a business coach with practical experience who will challenge your thinking. And he is fun to work with. Mike himself has good business experience and knowledge and can offer pragmatic advice on many areas of the business. The group of other companies that are involved in the programme is similar to mine, and apart from providing me with leads for new business, they’re a great bunch of people to bounce ideas off. It’s a good forum to discuss the latest business trends and innovations in the workplace, and to keep abreast of the changes and how other people are managing their businesses.

There was one acquisition that I did in 2005 that gave us critical mass and had an incredibly good payback, and Mike’s advice gave me the confidence to go ahead with it.

My advice to others is: make sure you’re part of a network because a network will provide you with financial benefits, as well as inspiration and advice. Don’t focus on one particular business strength, for example marketing or human resources, but rather find something that encompasses all the facets of running a business.