Last year, BJ Ball acquired Aarque, after JPP (now Ovol) acquired BJ Ball and now, Aarque has acquired Jenrite from founder Steven Kemp.So what happens now?
We caught up with Jason Bult, co-chief executive at Aarque, on his car phone as he tried to explain the buzz around the changes, without crashing his vehicle.
He says, “Aarque and Jenrite have had off the record chats about acquisitions for years but it got more serious in 2018. When BJ Ball purchased us, we made it clear we would be looking at acquisitions.“In a small market, everyone knows everybody else and some would have been surprised with the acquisition, but many of our competitors saw it as a natural progression. We have had a lot of things to work through and, to be fair, there are not many businesses in New Zealand that can just acquire other businesses.
“What is exciting for us is that it fits like a glove. We have taken over the majority of the portfolio of what Jenrite was supplying. Steven Kemp built a good team based on service and delivery and we have brought those team members into Aarque. We certainly had overlapping customers but Jenrite had a lot of customers we had not heard of. We had struggled in that midrange of customers and Steve had built a strong base there.“Steven has been a great ambassador for the industry and has been a strong competitor. We have to say that Steven’s strength has made us better at what we do. Also, his professionalism has made the handover process much smoother.
“The Jenrite acquisition has brought a new dynamic to our business and we now need to live up to those expectations.“Regionally, we have already moved Jenrite into the Aarque branches and we are running those as regional warehouses. In Auckland, we are still forging through the transition and should be done and dusted there around the beginning of October. We have just found another offsite warehouse, which we will bring under the Aarque umbrella. This acquisition gives our customers greater choice. One of Aarque’s great strengths is multi-branding, which gives us the ability to fit custom requirements to our clients’ needs. Every manufacturer reaches a high point in their products at a different time, so our clients can be assured they are being offered an extensive range of products the industry has to offer. It also consolidates our clients’ purchasing, so they are not having to face so many hidden costs.
“Right now, we are answering the telephone Aarque/Jenrite. That is because not everyone knows about the acquisition, but Aarque will be the brand. Having said that, we see some excellent Jenrite culture that we want to adopt as well. We won’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.
“There are also crossovers in products and, as we go through them, we will be choosing the best of the best. We will be consulting with our clients to ensure that the products all fit nicely together within their business“So far, we have hit a few speed bumps with issues like integrating back end systems but we are pushing through. We are reinvesting in systems and finding ways to make it work.“When it acquired Aarque, BJ Ball did a great job but this is a different gig. Aarque and Jenrite have many similarities but it feels good to have BJ Ball’s expertise in moving stock around.
“We have had great feedback from our management team, staff and clients. We have also had excitement from the Jenrite reps, who now have more products to talk to about with their clients. It smashes together nicely, which is great because we have always run Aarque as one team. Of course, now that team has over 80 members.
“Aarque is about a culture where the right person with the right skill set works in the right job. You can a have a great person but if they are in the wrong environment, you need to change that. With the BJ Ball and Jenrite deals, we now have opportunities and possibilities for members of our team to find their ideal place and that includes the team members coming from Jenrite.
“On the environmental side, we have had some big discussions and we continue to communicate with our clients about that.”
He adds, “We have already had a few hiccups along the way. I have to apologise to clients but, if there is anyone feeling they are not getting the urgency they need, there is an open line to my number or Leo’s (Leo Bult, co-chief executive at Aarque). That number is 0508 22 77 83.