Business Distributors Limited (BDL) was incorporated in Christchurch in 1973 by Garth Huston. Still with a Christchurch Head Office and the same family ownership and management, BDL now operates branches in Wellington, Auckland, Hawkes Bay, New Plymouth, Nelson/Marlborough and will open in Hamilton in 2020.
Garth was educated at Christchurch Boy’s High School and the University of Canterbury where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree majoring in Economics and Psychology in 1968.
Armed purely with enthusiasm, a rare charisma and enormous drive, he started BDL with a 3M dealership for Copiers in shared offices in Kingsley St, Sydenham. His father was also a Christchurch based businessman within the electroplating industry and Garth also saw an opportunity to supply good quality industrial abrasives in this area. The agency for 3M abrasives was already taken so he eventually won the sole agency of another brand and started importing abrasives for finishing metals.
This led to the establishment of the Industrial Division of BDL as an addition to the Office Equipment Division. These two distinct business units prevailed for 40 years. BDL became the sole distributor of Swiss Industrial Abrasives (SIA) and supplied these premium quality industrial sanding belts to MDF manufacturing plants across New Zealand.
The Office Products Division grew enormously too, through adapting quickly to the rapid technological advancements during these years. This ability to be agile and adapt to an ever changing environment has been a key to the ongoing success of the BDL business.
From the beginnings in supplying early copiers (duplicators), BDL has always been at the forefront of technology, whether it be overhead projection equipment, calculators, facsimile machines, spell checkers or photocopier parts right through to the highly sophisticated Multi-Function print/copy/scan devices and related software that grace every office today.
Over this rich 47 year history BDL has been navigated through a full variety of economic cycles by Garth and over the past turbulent decade by his Son, Ben and Daughter, Penny who are both Directors.
Business is never plain sailing and BDL has had its share of adversity. Due to financial difficulties at SIA stemming from the GFC, SIA Australia decided to change its business model and remove the SIA agency from BDL in 2011 to operate directly into New Zealand, severing the 35 year relationship.
BDL had built this business over these many years the same way it approached all its business – by developing and maintaining exceptional local relationships, gaining intimate industry knowledge and practicing ethical & honest business.
BDL had consistently delivered and grown a profitable business with an exceptional product. It was a massive blow right on the back of the Canterbury Earthquake series and forced the Company to make some redundancies, for the first time in its history, with the closure of the Industrial Division.
SIA was unable to maintain these relationships directly from Australia and lost the lucrative multi-million dollar NZ business within 2 years. They withdrew entirely from NZ.
These were difficult times but they simply reinforced the deep seated BDL resolve that there was huge strength in being a NZ owned, and run, business. Although already being the largest Toshiba Dealership in Australasia by this time, BDL restructured and redoubled efforts into the Copier Division. After a successful joint venture entry into the largely ignored Wellington market in 2009, BDL won the highly competed Scales Corporation business throughout the country which led to opening branches in other regions.
The NZ market is highly competitive but relatively small by global standards. Over the years we have seen our competitors with branches directly owned by the manufacturers falter time and again with their high overhead structure.
When HP entered the A3 Printer in 2017, they had a mountain to climb to break into a mature market with well established and experienced players. Opting for an aggressive and innovative strategy to rapidly gain market share, they saw a branch model was not efficient and pursued a dealer model like Toshiba. They approached BDL to partner with them to break into the SME niche where BDL has such a strong track record.
HP is undoubtedly a global powerhouse, but quite distinctive from other corporates, with family values still at the core of its business philosophy. With strong commitment to investing in its people, sustainable business practices and giving back to the communities it serves – HP aligns perfectly with BDL values.
This partnership offers the best of both worlds – local family business backed by the resource of one of the world’s most innovative, sustainable, progressive and respected brands. So 2018 saw the beginning of another exciting chapter.
Of course the products, technological changes along with the economic twists are only part of the BDL Story.
Our local team are the heartbeat of BDL. Some of our team have committed the majority of their working lives to this business simply because they like it here, they feel the real benefits of being part of a local success story and because they are treated like family. We are proud to say the average length of service at BDL is 15 years.
Being a close knit organisation means BDL is easy to deal with, nimble and able to quickly fix an issue or source a solution – fast. When you call for Sales, Support or Service you will speak directly with our Christchurch based expert team. BDL people are the best in the Industry and have an unwavering focus on delivering the highest levels of Customer Service, our commitment and loyalty to our longstanding Customer base is at the forefront of everything we do.
Our culture extends into our community as well, being heavily involved in our community through sponsorship, donations to local schools, sports teams, charities & projects.
In recent times we made a commitment to making continued investment into a project focussed on re-foresting New Zealand with natives and we donate a tree to NZ for every printer we sell. In line with our green principles we also committed in 2019 to convert our Field Service Fleet to electric cars.
The most distinctive feature of the BDL style is our ability to see change coming and adapting fast. We don’t just talk about doing things – we do them.
Our business plan for 2020 will see us opening up a new HP Sales Branch in Hamilton and, in a bold move during a global pandemic, we are expanding our business into the realm of 3D printing in conjunction with the magnificent HP Jet Fusion 3D Production Printers.
At BDL we have young, dynamic team members full of enthusiasm and new ideas, supported by mentors with a wealth of industry and life experience who have been in this industry since the very beginning. Where other see problems and obstacles in this changing world, we see challenge and opportunities – and the future is bright.