Blackfern is the brainchild of like-minded individuals who recognised a simple need within NZ’s automotive market: assisting independent workshops with co-operative solutions for marketing, technology and meeting future challenges in an ever-changing consumer landscape.
Director Roger Castleton, pictured above left, says the Blackfern model was developed in the Wairarapa in 2014, where the tick of approval to proceed was given.
“We held a series of quorum meetings involving 15 workshops in Masterton from August through to October (2014). These meetings were a round table affair as we worked on identifying the needs of independent workshops.
“The Blackfern name and principles were ratified and we launched an operational phase in March 2015. Since that time, Blackfern has grown from strength to strength, engaging workshop businesses from many parts of New Zealand. Our membership growth means that we can position ourselves as the third largest collective in the automotive arena,” he says.
As at July 5th 2016, the co-operative had 133 member workshops and was growing at a sustainable rate of one to two workshops a week.
“As per our constitution as we grow nationally, additional directors nationally or demographically will be added based on members’ voting discretion,” says Roger who is one of three Wairarapa-based directors.
“These are exciting times for Blackfern. Although I may be seen as the driver, I’m quick to point out there are a number of people contributing their time and energy for no financial gain. Blackfern has proven to be the ultimate team effort.”
Roger Castleton understands well the importance of teamwork, leaving school to join the NZ Army where, as a designated ‘supplier, parts’, he learned the automotive trade and served in various forms for 17 years.
The co-operative business model and its underlying democratic principles are important to the Martinborough resident.
“Empowering all members with voting rights and the ability to voice an honest opinion on the industry without prejudice, it’s a great way to do business. We’re transparent in our dealings, we’re NZ-owned and our profits stay in New Zealand,” he says.
“Through our growing co-operative, we strengthen our buying power with national suppliers and share collective access to technology with inter trading through our online portal.
“I’m looking forward to attending the (Cooperative Business New Zealand) Co-operative Governance Seminar in Wellington in August, as well as the AGM and Annual Awards Dinner.”