An example of business that has provided a good living for family and staff for many years, without ever making anyone redundant, is Stanton Bros (HB) Limited, Hastings and Napier Stationers and printers. They are breakaways from the national ﬁrm of Stanton Bros Limited, but are still friendly with their uncles, aunts and cousins.
Bernard Stanton, managing director at Hastings, proudly speaks of ﬁve generations of printers beginning with his great-grandfather John Shepherd, a printer, who came from England in 1862. Today Bernard’s son Craig is a printer in the Hastings shop.
L.O. Stanton & Co, stationery, was founded in Dunedin in 1918 by Lorenzo and Constance (nee Shepherd) Stanton. Their 13 children all became involved in the business, and eventually the eight sons bought out their father.
One son, Percy, considered the rate at which his brothers and sisters were reproducing themselves, calculated future division of profits, took his 1/8 share and went off on his own, settling in Havelock North.
Starting with $10,000 capital, Percy opened Stanton Bros (HB) in June 1955 in a small shop job a few doors from today’s headquarters on Karamu Road North, Hastings. He put daughter Constance, untrained in charge of the shop and went off selling for days at a time, sleeping in his van to save money.
“We followed what our father taught us: to work things out together, to get on with the job.”
In 1956 sales were $20,000. By 1980 they totalled $3 million, and this year “more millions.” Growth has been steady over the years with only one nasty 15% dip in August last year, since recovered.
Following the footsteps
At 82 Percy is now retired, and his ﬁve children – Constance, Bernard, Neville, Carol and David – are all actively involved in the business, along with some of their children and a spouse or two. Reminiscing about early days, Connie, Bernard and David all say, “At home we talked about nothing but stationery for breakfast, dinner and tea!”
Bernard recalls, “We worked most nights of the week and Saturday. On Friday nights Neville and I would take typewriters home for overhaul, bathe them in the shed, deliver on Monday morning. We ﬁxed stapling machines overnight. Our garage was our bulk store. At night we loaded the vans for Napier and Hastings.”
However, this overtime “ground to a halt” when several of them married, and in 1958 they hired their ﬁrst outsider. Today they have 40 staff.
Bernard, David and Connie left school at 15. Bernard failed the Stationers Guild Exam. “We worked on application, not education,” he says. “But we have travelled around the world several times, mainly to see how stationery is manufactured and marketed. We study world trends.”
In 1972 they added the printing department. Bernard says, “We couldn’t get delivery of printed stationery from manufacturers so we decided to print our own. I looked through catalogues, ordered a Heidelberg press and decided to run it myself, without training. After several disasters, we hired a tradesman.”
Today they employ six printers. A major part of the business is Speed Print, an instant printing system which Bernard saw demonstrated and was so impressed with that he bought the demonstration equipment and began operations immediately.
In 1979 Stanton’s opened another Hastings branch at Stortford Lodge, choosing the site because “an area served by five banks can’t be wrong.” The new branch recovered costs within a few months instead of the expected year or two.
18 / MANAGEMENT/ DECEMBER 1987