Dion Wengel admits he thought he knew it all when he was a young lad, just like most young blokes.
When his dad urged him to take on a trade after leaving school, he did that with a side of extra study in business management. Quite a wise move for a 15-year-old.
History repeated itself when Dion got his career underway whilst doing a double degree at Griffith University. Corporate life beckoned and Dion hit his straps as an Asia-Pacific brand manager taking ideas to market and handling logistics, strategy and training, yet he was never home and missed his family terribly.
He and wife Tracey then learned that the newsagency in Esk was for sale and, after what he called a gut full, they bit the bullet and bought the business.
That was in 2009 and whilst Dion and Tracey loved the idea of tree changing and settling into a country lifestyle, right from the start they had a plan to diversify the business.
“The changes facing the industry meant that core products were always being threatened by the web, technology and corporate giants,” says Dion. “So we pursued a strategy of not being just a newsagent but being a hub of products and services where the community can rely on us to come to, procure from and be known for problem-solving.”
Dion and Tracey have been working on that for the past six years and have made great strides.
With business partners now on board like Bendigo Bank, Elgas and Video Ezy, Esk Newsagency is a one-stop shop for beautiful giftware, telecoms products, photo developing, lotto and a comprehensive range of home and office stationery.
Of course, they still provide a comprehensive distribution chain of news and periodicals produced by APN, News Ltd, ACP and Gordon & Gotch; their footprint and exposure is quite a considerable one.
“The reality is some things work and some don’t; nothing dared, nothing ventured, nothing gained,” says Dion. “Tracey and I are very challenged people always looking for the next project to endeavour to bring a unique product or service to our business.”
OBT have been on hand for longer than Dion can remember.
“We’ve got all our financial affairs with OBT. Our relationship goes back to when we were both salary earners – we’ve known Brett Garmeister for many years so OBT partnered with us on procuring and setting up the business. Ultimately, we try and bundle all our affairs into one package which gives us better control.”
“As it was, Esk Newsagency had so much potential. Our research showed a lack of products and services so we saw it as being bereft but having good bones with an opportunity to fill out.”
“We have a great relationship with OBT who are not just our accounting and tax suppliers, but who are our partners. They are with us if things ever turn to sour and challenging, and when things are rosy, both personally and professionally.”
“We work closely with Rachel on our monthly BAS; MYOB Account Right Live ensures all parties are hands on and collaborating through ‘the cloud’. It means everything is transparent with access to data and tweaking and tracking our performance.”
“Having Rodney Turner under the same roof for our superannuation and investments is massively beneficial as it assists us with better control, quicker actioning and greater simplification, which is how we like things done.”
“We need to be challenged and we like to confront things if we’re unsure or see a problem – we bring it to the attention of OBT and then use their experience to improve things. They are always there with an open mind and ear to listen and guide us. I can ring up Rachel any time to pull my hair out or vent an issue.”
Dion looks at life as constantly evolving, and his business is no exception. With his corporate perspective he sees potential to bring a personal touch and a real connection to the community. As a result, there are some special initiatives in place.
They are huge supporters of Esk State School P&C and Esk Kindy. The business donates a percentage of sales back to local schools, already having notched up an impressive $3,500 in donations. They also contribute to schools through their Back to School booklists to assist more kids in more opportunities.
Dion and Tracey instigated a traineeship program together with Toogoolawah and Lockyer District High Schools and Faith Lutheran College to get candidates Certificate III qualified in retail. Their 18-month traineeship gives eight credit points towards an OP but the life skills, communication and customer interaction is invaluable.
“One hand washes the other when it comes to community,” says Dion. “Whether that be through hampers and giveaways, sponsorships or assisting the CWA Esk Branch, we are always vigilant and looking for opportunities to cement special relationships in our local region.”
They have just recently signed up the newsagency for Ladbrokes, which has synergies with Golden Casket Lotteries and is available now. This initiative is also a valuable one for the community as it provides a local solution.
Staff retention is the best it can be after buying a business that had no procedures manual! After four months Dion whipped one into shape, which empowers staff to show initiative and encourages them to positively contribute and ultimately feel part of the business and where it is heading.
“Compared with when we started, our business is more holistic, enjoys better engagement with community, has a greater selection of products and services, is a source of information and is something we can be proud of through hard work, creativity and skilled negotiation with our partners.”
“We are where we need to be at the moment; that’s not to say we are sitting on our hands! Our systems are doing what they need to do, therefore we need a partner like OBT to help us to constantly be on the lookout for greater efficiency and effectiveness.”
“Hopefully our business has become more relevant in the community, more valued and a beacon that gets people saying Wow – that’s new!”
Esk Newsagency is located at 130 Ipswich Street, Esk or visit their Facebook Page.
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