The Quiet Achiever

Family-owned business, Lanhams, has never been one for shouting its successes from the rooftops, but it’s high time the achievements of this Sunshine Coast-based business were recognised…

In November 2006, the Hardware Association of Queensland named Lanhams as Trade Store of the Year at their annual awards, for the third consecutive year. And for the first time, the store was named Grand Champion. CEO, Darren Jordison, said the awards were a great accolade but also presented a challenge to the staff to maintain standards and live up to the esteem the industry holds the business in. “We have a great culture of attention to detail when it comes to delivering what our customers want,” said Darren. “We are proactive in identifying trends and customer needs and being prepared to act on those changes.”

According to Darren, Lanhams has always had a long term focus which enables it to embrace change. “We are focused on sustainability and it’s all about the long haul for us,” he said. “When you implement things that won’t bear fruit straight away it can be pretty nerve-wracking, but the company has a culture of having faith – the more you give, the more you get.”

Change has been a constant at Lanhams which is now run by the fifth generation of the family. The business started in 1910 when Walter Lanham established a timber mill in Nambour, W Lanham and Sons. In 1945, the business moved to a site in Court Road, the current site of its flagship Home Timber & Hardware store. By 1975, the business had diversified into hardware supply and has been a member of Danks’ Home Group since 1993. The business now has two stores in Nambour and one in Cooroy, a township inland from Noosa Heads. In addition, the company has a Bi-Rite electrical franchise, stocking appliances from brand names such as Westinghouse, Fisher & Paykel, Simpson and Electrolux. They have also had a ‘Makita Shop’ for three years which Darren says is working well. A major development in September was the opening of an Appliance Centre at the Court Rd store which displays kitchen, laundry and air conditioning appliances. The Appliance Centre is designed to broaden the offer for tradespeople and according to Darren, it has established itself quickly amongst not only builders, but DIYers as well. The Nambour area, like much of the Sunshine Coast, is experiencing significant residential development. “It’s all part of the one-stop concept we are building here,” said Darren. “We are targeting builders mainly, trade represents about 65% of our business.” The success of the Appliance Centre has been helped by the fact that the business used to own a Retravision store in Maroochydore. “We sold it because the brown goods part of the business was too far removed from our core business,” said Darren. “But there was a lot of knowledge which has been put to good use in the Appliance Centre.” Darren said they are considering expansion into related categories such as flooring and floor coverings.

There’s no doubt that the skills and dedication of the 80-plus staff across the three stores, is responsible for the ongoing success of the business. The company employs a business coach who visits every fortnight to gauge job satisfaction amongst the staff. “We use the business coach for a range of issues such as how to get the best out of our staff, canvassing and workshopping growth strategies and benchmarking our performance,” said Darren.

Community involvement is the hallmark of the Lanham family and the business gives to the community on a number of levels, ranging from the ‘Big One’ an annual, free family fun day, to sponsorships and employing a full-time Community Relations Officer, who runs a community drop-in centre, The Shack. “The family has always had a fantastic ethos about serving the community, they feel the community has been good to them, so they have always given back,” said Darren. “I sometimes feel I’m working for a non-profit organisation because a lot of money gets puts back into the community.” The company has experienced a lot of growth in the last five years and Darren admits opening other stores is on the drawing board. “That’s something that’s driven by opportunity, there are no concrete locations at this stage,” he said. Something that is more definite is a redevelopment of the existing site to make it more accessible, particularly to the trade. “We are planning better storage facilities, better racking and easier access for the forklifts,” said Darren.