Rod was born and bred in New Zealand. He did the basic 3 years high school, followed by a 5yr boat building apprenticeship. He then started his first business adventure as Rod the Dry Cleaner during the day picking up clothes door to door and with a quick change of signs on his van, he instantly became Rod the Baker by night, delivering fresh bread to people’s doors. This was hard work and paid very little. With all this driving, he spotted an opportunity to clean up all those dirty tile roofs.

Experimentation followed with water blasters, then chemicals for this untouched market (Oh! The energy of youth!). Solar Chem Industries was thus formed in 1976, which traded in this new venture of chemically treating, then resurfacing tile roofs. Starting business as a one man band with lots of desire not to fail, but no real idea how not to, meant a lot of the kiwi “suck it and see technology”. Rod realised that he needed something to sell or manufacture with a major point of difference. In 1976 the roof resurfacing provided that point of difference. No-one else was doing it. He was first in, credible and did a great job! But he had to use other companies to provide the specialty products. Big mistake! No confidentiality clause! (didn’t know what it was)

The supply company ended up being our biggest competition. Another lesson! Never trust anyone who says, “You can trust me!” Rod also learnt the meaning of gullible when, over a period of time, 4 former friends and associates, created opposition companies. That’s when he built his own factory, manufactured all his own systems. This was also where a wide range of decorative paint finishes, with the trade name of SKINS (for internal and exterior use ) was also developed and launched via the paint shop. Alongside this he developed a specialist antifouling, WARPAINT, for NZ’s large marine recreational industry which entitled him to be called a fully qualified “bush chemist”. Of course, so many ideas and so little money to promote them always kept everyone on a roller coaster ride with the thrill of the highs and the desperation of the lows. However, with more people, more overheads and less net profit the business headed for the biggest low of all when it was nearly closed down. Why? No clear goals! No idea where the money was going! Too proud to ask for help! Another lesson learned! (pride cometh before the fall) And so entered the bank. Ooh Oh! They appointed a firm of chartered accountants.

Meeting after meeting confirmed Rod was about to lose everything. Another lesson! Act on a problem when it first arises. Nothing remains constant except change. If you don’t adapt you’ll quickly fall behind. So - a major rethink on how the business should operate began. The “new look” company of Wet and Forget Ltd kicked off in September 2001 with 3 other distinctive products to market more fervently.

Bone Dry – sealant and moss & mould retardant/stain repellent Firemen Aerosol Fire Extinguishers (now no longer available) Warpaint antifouling – the only tintable marine antifoul which is available in 16 different colours Since then, the stable of products has grown significantly and 8 stores have opened in the last couple of years. With heaps of hard work, lots of changes and the implementation of some innovative marketing, Wet & Forget is now a household name and sold in USA, Australia and the UK We most importantly though - have the most wonderful group of people who work within the company and who continue to make this journey a great one.




Rod’s Business Tips

 

1.     Write down your goals
2.     Get the right advice early
3.     Don’t buy yourself a job
 
4.       Balance business and family life
5.       Pay attention to the details
6.       Have fun!!