For 25 years Huka Honey HIve has been a staple of the Taupo community. Now, after decades at the helm, owners Blair Matheson and Dawn Jansen have passed their business to new hands.
1993 saw both parties create Huka Honey from scratch, bringing a strong dedication of community and sustainably along with them. With the change of hands, Blair Matheson has complete faith that the new owners, Mark and Jo Saville, will continue on the businesses legacy in the area.
“Mark and Jo, apart from having previous experience in business, picked up very quickly on our team philosophy. We think that although customers are important if you don’t have a good team in place it’s no good trying to look after the customers. You’ve got to look after the team first, and they will automatically do a good job looking after your customers.”
Matheson and Jansen undoubtedly have a connection to the business they created over the past 25 years, but say passing the business to new hands was part of their succession model.
“I guess that we felt after 25 years that was enough, it was in a way part of our succession plan to eventually move on. We’ve built the business up from scratch all these years, and the last five years in particular because from that I’ve been able to peruse philanthropic interests that the business has helped support.”
The two often used funds from the business to help alongside the community, and support those who may need help.
“In setting up a business, one of our goals was so we could make money, so we could help those more disadvantaged. And that has always been an underlying philosophy of ours. We’ve always been involved within the community, and improving the business.”
Part of why Matheson is ready to pass on the business is because of the new owner’s compatibility and because the team he leaves behind is prepared to carry on the legacy
“It’s made it easier knowing the new owners are committed to looking after the team as much as we did. They employed everyone back on the same day… We had a hilarious night a few weeks ago, I went around and handed everyone their termination notice, and then the new owners went around the team five minutes later and gave them all new contracts which were replicates of their old ones. So, everyone was rehired in about five minutes. We had kept them in the loop from the start, however.”
The sale was expected to take 6-12 months due to the business being on the unique side, but within four days the broker had two offers and nine weeks later the business had changed hands.
“I’d like to think we’ve always done things a bit differently with our love of people and desire to do the best we can, along with our passion for sustainability, and I think that’s been key to our success.”
He says he wants every person that walks into the store, visits the website, or follows them on social media to understand their passion for all things related to bees and honey, and encourages them to also adopt bee-friendly practices in their own lives.
“When customers visit our store they’re not just visiting a retail shop, they’re getting the whole honey bee experience. This means we’re not just about selling products, we’re passionate about telling the story behind our suppliers, including how a company improves the welfare of bees and sources their local and natural ingredients.”
“I really like to look back and think that anybody that has left, has left with better skills and more confidence as a person,” says Matheson. “I think the impact that we’ve had on both local and international communities has been quite something. I’m proud that we’ve been able to be a part of that, the new team are now the ones to lead the way and make things happen."