“I had little idea how to structure deals and charge properly, but I gave it a go!”

In the early 1980s I started a company called Replica Homes by heading away from ubiquitous, conventional brick and tile group home designs, tapping into the nostalgia trend, recreating homes from the late 180Os colonial era.

I learned perspective drawing at Art School.

My hobby became sketching old buildings and houses, particularly those designed in the Nelson region by my Great, Great Grandfather, William Beatson.

His Neo Gothic style had become very sought after.

It still is, with homes in fashionable inner-city suburbs throughout the country being restored and remodelled yet retain their colonial character.

I teamed up with a very talented architectural designer and a well-known Christchurch timber merchanting and construction company.

Together we took some of William Beatson’s designs and flipped them to face the sun rather than the street and were able to reproduce all the colonial timber components; architraves, skirting boards bolection mouldings, dado panelling, four-panel doors, finials, veranda brackets etc.

Then we set off around the country to enlist franchise builders.

Staying in a hotel room in Invercargill, we worked through the Yellow Pages to seek out builders who would be similarly interested in breaking the ordinary home design mould.

We figured that by the time we got to Auckland we’d have the pitch right.

Over the next 7 or 8 years I was able to set up a franchise chain throughout the country – building dozens of high-end homes that struck a nostalgic chord with buyers.

With no established franchise industry in the early 80s I had little idea how to structure deals and charge properly.

I was able to build a good living, but not a sustainable business that could run without me.

I eventually sold the business.

Since then, successive owners – two large building companies – have built over 400 homes until eventually, changing architectural fashion and Covid saw the brand fade away.

I learned some valuable lessons,

Firstly; as a pioneer be prepared to get an arrow up the bum.

Don’t try to set up a national franchise business on your own.

You must find trusted partners.

Give yourself time to build a brand.

Keep evolving to meet the market. The day you think you’ve arrived is the rock you perish on.

So, although it’s all history for me now, I’ve applied these lessons (and more!) as I went on to build other successful companies. I know the way through the minefield and have put it together in the Periodic Table of Innovation that will show you how.

You can download it here: The Periodic Table