When Daniel McKerrow left school he had no idea what he wanted to do. He took a role with meat processors Anzco for a season, but a conversation with his uncle got him thinking about a career in engineering.

Pursuing the idea, Daniel signed up for an apprenticeship in Mechanical Engineering with Hawera-based Croucher and Crowder, spending six years with the firm before returning to Anzco as a contractor and funding the last stage of his apprenticeship himself.

In 2011 Daniel, with wife Tara, recruited a team and set up his own business, DMACK Engineering, providing a range of specialised stainless-steel fabrication, machinery installation, and factory maintenance services to local businesses in the meat processing, oil and gas, and construction sectors. The business has grown strongly, and has introduced new products and services, such as waterjet cutting, to widen their business offering.

Daniel entered the Taranaki Start-up Weekend business idea competition in 2017, with his team taking out first prize for their ‘Permit to Work’ app concept. This win gave him the confidence to consider ways to improve and grow his business.

Following Start-up Weekend, Daniel got in touch with Venture Taranaki’s South Taranaki-based Business Advisor Jane Moffitt to talk through his business, though found it tricky to put his finger on the support he needed at first.  

“Jane asked lots of questions and this enabled me to really think through the business and focus on what I needed to grow and the options that were available to me. I want to keep learning about business,” Daniel said.

“As we took on more and more work I was feeling unorganised and realised I needed help to move the business forward. We had so much work coming in it became about just going on to the next job. It was hard to focus on the overall direction of the business.”

After meeting with Jane, Daniel was given a business assessment and a range of options for funding opportunities and connecting with local business networks that could help him shift his focus from the day-to-day work to the strategic growth of the business.

“Working with Venture Taranaki was great. Getting funding was a really easy process and their local connections were really valuable.”

Thanks to Venture Taranaki, Daniel has utilised the Capability Development Voucher scheme to work with a number of business coaches on specific aspects of his business. He’s currently working with local business Velocite to get support in business planning, strategic growth planning and business development.

“After an initial workshop with Dan and Tara to develop a business strategy and plan, we now meet monthly to ensure they’re making progress. Each meeting can be slightly different as they navigate opportunities and challenges, but always links back to their plan, and the accountability that a coach brings to the partnership is proving valuable,” says Velocite Business Advisor Loren Anderson.

“A number of our clients have utilised the Capability Development Voucher scheme to access advice and services that give them the best opportunity to focus on the future of their businesses. Venture Taranaki are providing a really valuable service,” Loren says.

Daniel and Tara are also seeing value from the relationship.

”The opportunity to check in with our business coach every month has been great. I now have a strategy to grow the business, and rather than putting off the planning stuff I have written goals that we’re working towards achieving.” 

“Thanks to the support we have received from Jane and Venture Taranaki we’re now looking forward to the future of the business and have a clear plan of where we are going.” 

Daniel’s now really proud of the progress he – and DMACK – have been able to make and is looking forward to an even brighter future with a little help to get there.

The mentoring Daniel has received has also encouraged him to give back to his own community, in turn mentoring South Taranaki school students through the process of developing a bicycle-powered outdoor cinema, seen at this year’s Techweek Pedal Powered Pictures event, hosted by South Taranaki District Council and Mayors Taskforce for Jobs.  Daniel and his team took the time to mentor South Taranaki school students to enable them to power an outdoor movie using bicycles.

To sit down with one of Venture Taranaki’s business advisors, drop a line to countmein@venture.org.nz.