Andrew Price
Design Builders NZ

As Design Builders celebrates its thirtieth year in business, we catch up with Design Builders CEO Andrew Price and hit him with a few questions about his role, why Design Builders succeeds, his plans for the future and why a Six60 song is high on his playlist.

Andrew, as Design Builders CEO, how do you see your role?
The key thing I do is drive our vision, and there are many parts to that. It comes down to listening, discussing, strategizing, troubleshooting, thinking, directing, navigating, marketing, celebrating, exploring, seeking – and, ultimately, succeeding.

What is the best thing about your job?
Seeing that look of satisfaction on someone’s face when they accomplish something amazing. For example, it’s the look on a Design Builders partner’s face when they win a project for a client, or win 10 projects. I see it when someone in our design team nails a House of the Year winner. Or a client when they have an incredible idea for their unique home, and it comes off brilliantly. I just love seeing those expressions of accomplishment.

What’s a top tip you could pass on to Kiwi businesspeople?
It would be pretty obvious to say ‘Communicate’ or ‘Trust your team’. Those are important, but my tip is ‘Be patient and relentless’. The two qualities almost oppose each other. I like that tension. I think if you can pursue a goal patiently, yet relentlessly, it implies that you’re really not going to stop.

Design Builders has been going for 30 years. How does a company sustain such a great run?
I think it comes down to the fact that we have a really desirable market position – desirable for our partners, the people that run our businesses, and our clients. Our partners really love building unique, high-quality homes for people. It’s desirable to our clients that we build these amazing, one-off homes for them. We’ve stuck to what we do best, and that’s create great, high-quality, unique homes.

Is there a danger that success can breed complacency?
Most businesses will have ebbs and flows over time – really focused growth followed by some consolidation – and the risk is that consolidation can turn into complacency. I think that we must keep evolving and bringing in key people to help keep us fresh and drive our vision. At the core of our business, we have good values. And one of our values is ‘Kaizen’. It’s a Japanese concept about driving continuous improvement. That’s how to avoid being complacent.

‘Personalised quality homes’, ‘Nothing but original homes’, ‘A home built around you’… Design Builders has had a few slogans over the years. What’s behind them?
To me, they show the evolution of our company brand, our market and even the culture within Design Builders. Basically, they all say the same thing, but for me ‘A home built around you’ seems more positive. It says that the client is at the centre. The first two slogans say what we do, but I think now we’re saying that we really acknowledge the client and their unique vision, so we’ll create ‘a home built around you’.

What are the differences – and the similarities – between Design Builders partners across the country?
When I’m looking for new partners, I look for hunger and energy. The other thing they share is resilience or mental toughness. At the same time, our partners are all different. And that’s because every region’s a bit different, with different clients. So one of the things they have in common is they’re all different.

One of the many strengths of Design Builders is the way the partners support each other.
It goes back to that idea of continual improvement. When you’re designing and building unique homes, there are always challenges to overcome. We have a wide network of people to help resolve those. I think it results in a better experience, and a better product, for the client. I know clients who have been told by some other company, ‘Oh no, that’s too hard.’ Our starting point instead is, ‘Hmm, how can we do this?’

What do the next few years look like?
We’ve got a few regions in their first few years of business, so we’ll be working to strengthen those. I also want to consolidate our market position and our message. Our partners know it and our clients know it, but I think there’s a real opportunity for Design Builders to become a more recognised brand – a national player in terms of brand recognition. I would like to see us getting another couple of regions in the South Island. So that’s on the cards. I guess my attention is on bringing the opportunity of unique homes to more people.

To say that the last two years have been unusual is an understatement, but what are your thoughts now that we seem to be heading out of it?
It’s been challenging to recruit people for the last 12 months; however, we have managed to recruit solidly, and we’ve maintained our staff. We haven’t had lots of staff turnover, which is a good sign through that very challenging period. From now on, I think it will become easier to recruit good people. Some of our regions saw big spikes in volume. These will come back to more normal levels. As our new regions grow, they will take up the capacity that we’ve created in our business. We now have the opportunity to support that growth across the country.

Can you recommend a book?
Yes, Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds, by David Goggins. It’s autobiographical. He faced adversity as a young black man in America. He was also obese. He wanted to be a Navy SEAL, and it took three goes at his BUD/S training, the most arduous training on the planet. He did these ridiculous feats like 100-mile runs – ultra-marathon sort of stuff. He showed how far you can push your body if you can get your mind around things. The mind is more of a weak point than the body. David Goggins proved it by just doing these ridiculous runs that probably weren’t good for his body, driven purely by mental toughness.

What song best describes how you feel about Design Builders right now?
You know how in the New Year Spotify gives you an update on your most played songs of the year? The song for me was ‘The Greatest’ by Six60. It’s actually my kids’ favourite song. The Six60 concert was going to be in Hawkes Bay this weekend but has been postponed. It’s the song we listened to the most, getting ready for the concert. Our vision for Design Builders is the premier brand for New Zealanders seeking superb one-off homes. If I were to abbreviate that, it’s to be ‘The Greatest’.