Mainfreight is one of this country’s most successful publicly listed companies, with some of the highest value shares on the NZX. It is one of our biggest and most responsible corporate citizens and has its own people on the ground in markets worldwide.
But you may not be aware of the astonishing business story that lies behind the big blue and white Mainfreight rigs – you know, the trucks with the catchy words of wisdom on the back that have plied New Zealand’s roads for the past 35 years.
But Mainfreight’s rise to NZX heavyweight did not happen overnight and it was far from smooth sailing. Initially there were catastrophic ‘stuff-ups’ in Australia and the US – and more recently a jaw-dropping moment in Europe when the company made its biggest purchase ever, only to see most of the turnover and half the profit disappear almost overnight.
Keith Davies’ book Ready, Fire, Aim is a fascinating ‘warts and all’ insight into the remarkable world of this global logistics company – and the two visionary people at its centre: founder Bruce Plested and current CEO Don Braid. Both are across every facet in the business; both are gutsy and both are driven.
Backed by a powerful board, the success of Mainfreight is the story of a compelling partnership between two very remarkable businessmen.
Davies says the Mainfreight instruction manual is short. “It’s a world where budgets are deemed ‘bullshit’. Why spend time preparing figures that are invariably out of date before the ink is dry? Just make more than last year they say. It’s a unique corporate culture where there’s no place for individual ego.”
Starting out with just the one truck, Bruce Plested created the phenomenally successful Mainfreight blueprint. The company was family, a team, where everyone had a share in the riches and where the word ‘management’ was banned.
The company’s early years were dominated by ‘David and Goliath’ battles, as it took on a heavily regulated transport industry dominated by a transport cartel.
Today Mainfreight is headed by Don Braid – regarded as one of New Zealand’s leading CEOs. He has had his own battles fighting recessions, difficult acquisitions that required a large dose of Mainfreight culture to survive, escalating expectations, and increased risk exposure in a post-GFC world where a business has to be resourceful, courageous and agile.
Significantly, there’s been the courage to take Mainfreight global. Mainfreight now has an international footprint that no other New Zealand firm can equal.
Mainfreight’s culture is built on the belief that with passion anything is possible. “Go anywhere as long as it is forward” remains the mantra. To which Braid has added a new imperative: “Ready, Fire, Aim”.
RRP $44.99 – published by Random House New Zealand. ISBN: 978-17755-32903
To enter the draw to win a copy of Ready, Aim, Fire: The Mainfreight Story, email the name of Mainfreight’s current CEO to [email protected] before September 30th, 2013.