Talking with Tim Masterton, owner and managing director of iElectrics Ltd, I’m reminded that each and every one of us has a story and every business has a history – downs, ups, failures, and successes. Tim has come a long way from his days in Christchurch as a student, through to an apprenticeship, working for respected companies and then setting up on his own with iElectrics at the beginning of 2020, just before the first nationwide Covid-19 lockdown came into force.
When I asked him what brought his business to life he went back a few years to give me some back story. “I was doing electrical engineering at Canterbury University and had a bit of drama in my second year. I stopped studying and thought since I’m doing electrical engineering, I may as well become an electrician,” Tim says.
While not divulging the specifics of Tim’s ‘bit of drama’, it’s fair to say he suffered an extremely traumatic experience that changed the course of his life. “While I was down in Christchurch I did an apprenticeship with Echo for four years and ended up working at Aotea for 12 years after that, though I transferred up to Auckland half way through,” he says. “I was leading big projects – the commercial side was my forte. I was looking after staff. I took a lot of my knowledge from Aotea, they taught me what I know now.”
It was the desire to strike a work/life balance that led to Tim branching out on his own. “With two young kids, we decided, this is it, we’re doing it and I haven’t looked back.”
Starting a new business in ‘normal’ circumstances is hard enough but kicking off just before the new realities of a global pandemic presents even greater challenges. “It’s risky going out on your own, risky looking for staff members and I’d just started, so I was worried,” Tim says. However, as lockdowns ended and restrictions eased, iElectrics started to grow and he now has four permanent staff. “As we’re growing we’re putting food on other staff members’ tables.”
Tim is positive but he’s also astute. When I ask why he’s busy now, he’s clear that word of mouth has grown his customer base. A significant part of that is being with NoCowboys and he registered his business with us just as it was beginning.
“When they Google, they see NoCowboys at the top of the list, they see all your reviews and they go through them. It’s so easy for them to check up on past jobs and they can see that you’re local: nice and easy. That’s how we get a lot of work. I ask how customers found us and they will say the internet or NoCowboys. I used a few services initially – advertising, spending money to see what worked. I got rid of them all except NoCowboys. That’s the one that works.”
To be fair Tim has made it work. He regularly receives reviews from customers and customer service is a driving part of his ethos. “Communication is key – being polite, introducing yourself and making sure they’re happy at the end, being clean and tidy,” he says.
From a significant and life altering event in his student days, Tim has come a long way and it is no small feat to create your own business, take on staff, and then prosper amidst some of the more challenging conditions imaginable.
Image caption. The iElectrics crew. From left: Tim, Dom, Oscar, and Pate