Thanks to WAVE 16 funding from Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu, Andrew Norton-Taylor’s Westport-based business, NFM Firewood and Coal has grown by 100% and he is enjoying a complete lifestyle change with his whānau.
Rather than working two jobs for up to 80 hours a week, Andrew (Tainui), is able to spend quality time with his wife, Siobhan Patterson and their three children, Nahla (8), Frey (6), and Milou (4), whose initials inspired the business name.
Andrew established NFM Firewood in August 2021, as a part-time operation while he was still employed fulltime with a local coal mining company, working up to 60 hours a week. The idea for NFM grew after a large flood in the Westport area created a shortage of firewood.
“We had an elderly neighbour who was having trouble getting firewood and they asked if we would consider selling some. From there, requests kept coming,” Andrew says.
By January 2022 he had left his job at the coal mine to focus on NFM Firewood. With assistance from Siobhan, who manages social media marketing and deliveries, his father, Mark Norton-Taylor and Siobhan’s parents, Al and Nicola Patterson, he has been able to steadily grow the business to include both firewood and coal deliveries throughout the Buller region.
He’s also thankful for the opportunity to be part of Buller High School’s Gateway Programme and having student Maddox Manawatu working with him one a day a week. It’s another positive two-way benefit that has occurred since he received funding support.
WAVE funding has given him a boost of confidence and has enabled him to purchase heavy equipment like a log-splitter, a second trailer and chainsaw.
“That’s really taken the pressure off. It’s given me much more flexibility and it’s meant business has almost tripled since we began – without stress, risk or loans. It’s enabled me to invest in the next five years of my business and we’re now set up to grow every year. Building a secure future like that for my whānau is important to me.”
Andrew is a great believer in developing strong personal relationships with his clients. NFM differentiates itself that way. He offers free delivery within Westport itself and he happily helps kaumātua stack their firewood.
“Building relationships is key. We work around our customer needs and if having a yarn with someone takes an extra half hour, that doesn’t bother me. I’m passionate about getting to know people and without funding, we couldn’t have helped the fifty or so families we’ve already helped,” he says.
“On top of that, the positive change to our family lifestyle has been massive. Our children are home-schooled and working 12-hour days at the coal mine and then working at the firewood business in weekends, I didn’t see a lot of them. Late last year, I realised I couldn’t keep working at that rate. It wasn’t fair on the family and I needed to create more balance. Thanks to Te Pūtahitanga, I’ve been able to do that – and you can’t put a price on that.”