Versatile is a name synonymous with garages, sheds and farm buildings but it has also built hundreds of quality residential homes and commercial projects. New owner and managing director of the Franklin franchise, Wenny Lubbers, is keen to rise to the challenge of helping build homes for a burgeoning South Auckland population.
Taking over a large company such as Versatile Franklin is major move; do you have an industry background?
I have worked in the building industry for more than 30 years now and have about 26 years experience in operations management. What’s more, I was operations manager at Versatile Franklin from 2010 and I’ve worked with long-time owners, Dave and Bridget Sutton since then so I know the company well. Naturally, I’ve been involved with the building of many new homes, commercial buildings, garages and farm buildings throughout the district.
A lack of affordable housing in greater Auckland has be under scrutiny for months. Is this tiring, annoying or challenging?
I still am utterly passionate about building, and building well – anything from small to big projects – and I’m glad to say our range of standard designs contain options for those on tighter budgets. However, regardless of budget, we deliver the best possible experience to our customers from the first inquiry through to handing them the keys to their new home or building.
Sometimes there are hitches but the difference with us is in the way we handle them – efficiently, with professionalism and in ways that ensure our clients are delighted with the final outcome. Stress free- and the right result is what we expect to achieve every time. It is always a challenge to design and build the ideal home for a client but that’s a challenge I (and the rest of the team) love. We take great pride when we are told, ‘it’s perfect!”
Is the public perception of the company all about its garages and sheds or are people aware that you build houses too?
It’s true, some people still think of Versatile as a garage building company and we are, of course, proud to be associated with that arm of the industry which includes all manner of farm and commercial buildings. However, we have been in the new home market for more than 30 years and, as the ‘Versatile’ name suggests, our talented construction team can build virtually anything and build it well.
In recent years we have impressed clients with our contemporary designs and well built homes which cover a range of styles and budgets. Our show home at Pokeno [North Waikato] as won high praise from its many visitors and clients have been delighted with the versatility of the company when it comes to adapting to varied lifestyle needs. We are uncompromising when it comes to delivering quality and service and commend both our team and sub-contractors for the skill and pride they show when producing our product.
How did you make your start in the building industry and what prompted you to make an offer for Versatile?
I started as an assistant site manager when I was 19 and did my engineering degree in the evening hours. I finished it just before I reached 40. A few years ago my wife, Arean, and I decided we would like to own our own building company and we deemed it prudent to take over a well established firm rather than starting from scratch. Because I knew the company well, Versatile was the perfect choice.
Will Versatile still be the trading name for your business? Will the previous owners have any involvement?
We have been, and always will be, trading as Versatile. Versatile is a well-known New Zealand brand which has been voted New Zealand’s Most Trusted garage and sleep-out brand in NZ for three years running. Locally, we have also won Master Builder awards for our homes. We couldn’t be prouder to trade as Versatile. I’ve always had a good relationship with Dave and Bridget. Bridget will remain working for the company as a homes sales consultant which augers well for customers as she knows the ropes perfectly.
Will Arean work for the business too?
Arean works as a portfolio manager at Barfoot and Thompson and helps with Versatile where needed. The knowledge she has about the rental market helps us when people want to build a potential investment home. We can give them some guidance on what returns can be expected and this works well.
Day to day, will Versatile carry on as it has or is a new direction planned?
Versatile has been a great business for the past 15 years under Dave and Bridget and it will continue to develop as market and trading conditions change. However, there will be no major direction change in the near future.
Where to for Versatile now?
We are looking forward to building great homes and buildings for many more years to come.