For Tim and Tammy Maxwell, their start in the grocery industry began as teenagers where they both worked in Bishopdale New World. Today, they have been together for 20 years, are pre-approved owner/operators, and much like a Tim Tam biscuit, are two pieces brought together by a grocery centre waiting for their own store to coat it all off.
Having grown up in a family of mechanics, after high school Tim committed to a pre-trade in engineering. After he completed this, he found himself at a crossroads – whether to enter into full-time retail or engineering.
“With the guidance of New World I got involved in Foodstuffs management development programme and commenced working full time at the checkout until a position became available in the grocery department,” he said.
Right from the get-go in his retail career, Tim was motivated by the challenge, being creative and providing a great customer experience. “In my first ten years working at Bishopdale, I worked in almost every department as part of my training.”
In late 2004 Tim moved to New World St Martins to work as the chilled foods manager then as the grocery manager. A few years later the store was damaged beyond repair in the 2011 February earthquake. During the rebuild, Tim was tasked with ensuring that everything remained on track and that the owners’ core objectives were being met which included being the best store in New Zealand. “These 18 months were invaluable and enabled me to get some extensive experience for myself. I could see the real potential of our path into supermarket ownership.”
In his current role as SAP Systems Manager, Tim enjoys assisting managers and the whole team to achieve better performance and successful results. “Seeing staff happy because of what they have achieved is very rewarding.” Minimising packaging and seeking ways to be more eco-friendly is always top of mind as well.
Over the years, Tim has had a number of people inspire him because of their individual strengths in running their successful business. “My aim would be to try and replicate these qualities in my style of management. Bruce and Marie Boock, former owner, operators of Bishopdale New World, stand out for their care and attention to offering exceptional customer services. Julie and Garry Creswell also who were previous owners showed me just how hard a person can push themselves to achieve great things. Finally, Russell Mckenzie has a great ability to empower and delegate, so if I can take on at least some of these traits from those who have inspired me I know I will creating something great.”
Following three years at Bishopdale, Tammy began a career in pharmacy, working her way up from a retail assistant to a fully qualified dispensary technician. Then, after 16 years in the pharmacy sector, when the couple became pre-approved owner/operators, Tammy decided to leave her pharmacy career behind and join Tim in the supermarket world.
For the past 18 months, Tammy has been working part-time at St Martins New World as a trainee staff member. “I have trained in most areas of the supermarket and I especially enjoy the departments that involve food preparation combined with customer service.” During this time, Tammy has completed a range of Foodstuffs South Island training courses and she is currently participating in the Management Development Program.
“The most rewarding part of my job is ensuring excellent customer service, going above and beyond for our customers and seeing them walk away with a smile on their face,” said Tammy.
A goal that looks to be in arms reach for the grocery duo is owning their own store, and this is something that is top of mind for both Tammy and Tim.
“After being approved as owner/operators for New World or Pak’nSave, not a day goes by when you don’t think about whether an opportunity may be just around the corner, the journey to get here has been both challenging and exciting,” said Tim.
As something of a latecomer to the management side of FMCG retail, Tammy works hard to keep up. “The hardest thing is not having as much experience as Tim,” she admitted. “I really want to learn and know as much as I possibly can to be able to support him. With this career, you’re learning on a daily basis, whether you have been there for ten years for ten days.”
Both have high personal standards, passion, self-motivation and a positive mindset – attributes they try to share with their team.
“Each team member can be motivated differently, and we all have our off days,” said Tim. “Generally, being positive and working alongside the team and setting targets really gets the team moving together and staying motivated.”
The pair both have a very busy life outside of grocery hours. In his spare time, Tim is the assistant coach for his son Riley’s rugby team and regularly visits the gym while Tammy enjoys running and kickboxing and taking the kids to various co-curricular activities.
“Certainly in the next five years, we see ourselves as owner-operators of a New World. We can’t wait to hit the ground running in this space and at this early stage we have high expectations of ourselves and our abilities and see our first store as a stepping stone to something bigger. We very much look forward to grabbing the opportunity with both hands when it comes along,” said Tim.