What can I say about 2020? I think that we all know that it was an excruciating year for small business in New Zealand, the event industry was one of the hardest-hit sectors and cancellations came in left, right, and centre.
The P and A whānau was dismantled on the back of COVID-19. Our office in Eastbourne was closed and we created a virtual office.
It was exciting, but also eerie, to re-join P and A under such strange circumstances after a few years of doing my own thing, Kaye, Luke and I saw it as an opportunity to have a good look at where we wanted the business to be in the next 5 years. It was a time to regenerate and refine what we already had.
I asked Rebecca Weeks to join me as a part-timer at the end of 2020 as we started to confirm contracts for 2021. Rebecca and I had worked together previously and complement each other's strengths.
We ended the year with the online New Zealand Nurses Organisation - NZNO Conference in September.
Stay safe, be kind and keep scanning!
Coming into the late 2010s our focus leaned toward corporate conferencing as opposed to team building activities and leadership development sessions. We were running larger conferences and international events which became the core business for P and A as we came closer to the end of the decade.
By 2014, our core team was Luke and Kaye in the South Island and Hayley, Raynor, Penny, and Becky Grenfell in the North Island.
We continued to deliver exceptional events and development programmes for our existing clients and we brought new events and clients onto our books as we hit the mid-2010s
2012 was a big year of change for P and A, Kaye and Luke moved to the South Island and we officially opened our second branch of the business in Twizel!
Penny Stock joined our team and together with Luke, Kaye, Hayley, Raynor, and Tomai delivered another year of successful events.
We celebrated 25 years of Paardekooper and Associates at Te Papa with friends, whānau, and clients and set a Firewalking Guinness World Record with the Eastbourne Scouts.
We ran the final Butterfly Creek Nighttime Madness and Mt Lowry Challenge events in 2013, closing off the era of adventure racing for P and A. These events began as Luke's combined passions of the outdoors, event management, and scouting came together in the early 2000s. Over the years the races provided many donations to the Eastbourne Scout Group and Eastbourne Lions Club (in exchange for volunteers on the day, of course!)
By 2009, our event calendar for the next year was chokka and we were glad to have Raynor Redman join our team, bringing her ideas and experience to a busy year ahead! Tomai Morris also joined us in 2010, Debbie had progressed from satchel and name badge stuffing to manning registration desks, and a myriad of casual team members ensured we started the 2010s on top!
To give you an idea of where we were at, this is a list of our 2010 events:
• Timata Hou Development Programmes
• PwC New Zealand Development Programmes
• bp Team Programme
• Aquaheat Corporate Fun Day
• Archives New Zealand Future Perfect Conference
• ARANZ Conference
• AAPT Balint Online Registration
• NZ Open Source Awards
• Population Association of New Zealand Conference
• Te Kawa Mataaho Public Service Commission DevCon
• eResearch New Zealand Symposium
• GOVIS Conference
• Forestwood Conference
• NZSTI Online Registration
• New Zealand Computer Society Conference
• New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade Registration and Logistics
• CLESOL Conference
• Mt Lowry Challenge
• Butterfly Creek Nighttime Madness
• Mt Lyford Challenge
As we started the next decade, we had moved our office out of the family home and into a space in the Eastbourne Village, Luke and Kaye had started the development of Mt Cook Lakeside Retreat - High Country Estate & Luxury Villa Collection although they were still living in Eastbourne, Debbie was off at University, Hayley, Raynor, and Tomai were part of a cohesive team, growing year on year, and P and A was at the height of business!
From 2006, we did a lot of work for government agencies and schools of the major NZ universities. We branched out into roadshows in 2006 with Ministry for the Environment and over the next few years, we were delivering well-oiled Leadership and Organisational Development programmes for a range of clients.
In 2004, Hayley Larsen joined Paardekooper and Associates, bringing another level of experience and ideas to our team. Hayley stayed with P and A until the COVID-19 pandemic flipped our world in 2020.
It was in the early 2000s that we started to run MBTI sessions and team development programmes with organisations, helping individuals discover their personality types and how they work within a team. This tied in nicely with the team building activities we had been running since the mid-90s, allowing participants to complement their discussions with hands-on team experiences.
By the end of 2005, we were well and truly established in the corporate event industry. We held a range of products to suit any organisation; top team activities, MBTI and team development programmes, conference and logistics management, trade and sponsorship procurement, and themed events such as medieval, wild west and Mardi Gras dinners!
2002 and 2003 were big years for us, taking on more clients and returning to the South Island where we asssisted with the ITU8F Conference for the Ministry of Education NZ in Queenstown - we arranged new cabling into the Millennium Hotel to cope with the bandwidth required for the conference! We added CLESOL, Feltex Carpets, Ministry for the Environment, and GOVIS to our loyal client base and continued to foster positive working relationships with others in the industry.
At the turn of the century, as Y2K didn't end the world, phones became more advanced with the introduction of "snake" and Destiny's Child took over the pop charts, we ran our first full-blown Australasian conference and trade exhibition for the Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand - Dare to Care.
From 2000 to 2005, we took on more corporate clients, starting with the programme management and facilitation of the Foodstuffs (NZ) Ltd conference in 2000. We ran this event annually from 2000-2004 in Wellington and through this event, and others, built a strong backbone of supplier and venue relationships in the region
In 1996, we applied for a patent for "Top Team Challenge" and brought the product to market with great success. Top Team activities were often held down the road from the P and A home office in Eastbourne and the garage quickly filled with a variety of weird and wonderful team-building equipment!
In the late 90s, Luke combined his passions and became involved with the Eastbourne Scouts. Paardekooper and Associates soon began organising adventure races to give back to the Scouts and Eastbourne Lions Club.
The 1990s were an excellent time for Paardekooper and Associates. Our first repeat corporate conference clients came on board; MELCO Sales, Boots Healthcare (NZ), and Toshiba taking our team, which now included Kaye, Luke, and Kim, around the country.
Debbie came with the team to her first event at 3 months old, the first Melco Sales Company conference in Marlborough Sounds. While Luke ran the conference at the Nydia Bay Lodge, Kaye and Debbie went for walks and tried to spot exciting birds.
In 1994, Luke and Kaye invited their family and friends to Saint Arnaud, Nelson Lakes to tie the knot!
Alongside Kaye's work in the business, she also completed her Master's Degree in 1995 leading to an increased interest in management structure, personality types within teams, and ways to bring employees together to increase productivity and job satisfaction.
In 1991, Luke was running a team retreat and met Kaye. They soon fell in love and Luke moved to join Kaye and her two daughters, Sarah and Kim, in Wellington.
Moving to Wellington was a challenge for Luke, Kaye's support and strength were so crucial in the success of P&A during this time. Within a couple of years, Kaye came on board full-time and lead up a new division of the company, management consulting.
Soon, Kaye and Luke expanded from team building and management consulting to company conferences. Starting off with events for 20 - 30 people, often they would head off for 3 nights on half team-building/half conferencing retreats.
It was during the early 90s that Luke and Kaye started to take clients to amazing places and do some outrageous things!
Clients would say "let's go ice-skating"... "of course, no problem!"
"let's fly to Nelson Lakes on a helicopter and go on a golden egg hunt" - "sure, no problem"
Word started to spread and Employment Services jumped onboard. By 1990 programmes had been run for most NZ Post and Employment Services managers from Invercargill to Christchurch.
Within a few months, P and A turned into a full-time job and Luke managed to keep "sausages and mince" on the table by supplementing his income with odd jobs. He moved away from Berwick and built a lifestyle block just outside Dunedin.
More team events were run throughout the South Island in 1990 and 1991 for a number of different companies and P and A started to branch out into logistics management: t-shirts, transport, and beers.
Paardekooper and Associates was going from strength to strength.
"Paardekooper and Associates" was started way back in 1987 by Luke Paardekooper.
Initially, there was a strong focus on team building, with activities such as high ropes courses, top team challenges, and themed parties at the height of popularity.
What we would now call "corporate retreats" involved trusting your boss to belay you down a rock face, following instructions whilst blindfolded, and learning how to genuinely communicate with your team.
Our first clients.
In February 1987, Luke received a call from Wayne at the NZ Post Regional Office asking if their management team could come to stay at Berwick for a couple of nights in March.
"No problem, love to help."
Before they arrived another call came asking if Luke could help with some ideas for team building activities for 10 senior managers.
"No problem, love to help."
Luke thrived on the challenge and the group that arrived as nervous, apprehensive colleagues went away as a team with a purpose who had truly grown. A couple of days later, Wayne called again wanting to book 3 more 2-day team-building retreats - so he must have done something right.
In 1986, Luke Paardekooper became involved with the Otago Youth Adventure Trust through the Red Cross Youth Group.
Luke learned that the Trust had been involved in procuring a newly built camp for a location called Berwick, 45 minutes south of Dunedin. The camp had a local committee, Dave Dobbie and Ivan Webb, and discussions with the two sealed the deal. Luke was coming on board.
Luke handed his notice in at the Wilson Bros engineering Warehouse. He traded in his wage of $400/week for $100/week (negotiated up from $50/week), the promise of a "kick up the bum" from Ivan, and a half-built Sauna to live in to take on the warden role at Berwick.
As luck would have it, a house was found for the Trust to buy that Luke could live in and he was given Snoopy, a golden labrador puppy, as his companion. When he arrived, Luke thought he would live there forever.
The early days at Berwick solidified Luke's passion for the outdoors, creating projects to work on and taking others through confidence-building exercises.
Luke built more beds for the camp, encouraged schools to get involved, built a confidence course and an incentives course, convinced others to donate to the cause, and started working on ways to bring more people together.
Berwick was the start of the journey that lead Luke to the last 33 years of team-building activities, conference planning, and corporate event management.