2011 was a crunch year for Lesa Davis. She and her husband had separated and as well as sharing seven children, they shared seven employees in Nitrogenx, the medical equipment company they’d built up from a home-based business just a few years before.
Lesa decided to buy out her ex and make the company her own. Enter Kiwibank with the funds and because she doesn’t do things by halves, Lesa’s goal of 5 years to pay off the loan. She knocked that goal off in three and a half years and climbed Mt Tongariro with her team to celebrate.
Her people are the best thing
Heading up mountains together is a metaphor for their super-supportive workplace culture. Lesa says it took three years after she took over to create an atmosphere of special trust amongst the staff. It is their support that gives her confidence every time she has to step outside her comfort zone; be it buying the shares, expanding, or buying a new building.
“We celebrate and support one another through the difficult times life throws at us.” – Lesa Davis
Employees are like family – and some are family
When they were little her kids were folding invoices and putting stock away, now they’re playing key roles in the company. Samantha the eldest who joined Nitrogenx part time as an office junior, is there 10 years later looking after the company’s Health, Safety and Compliance. Son Ben, and youngest daughter Sara-Jane also work in the company. Lesa says they always talk about big changes and challenges as well as the future direction of the company. She made sure they all know their way around a P&L statement so they have a solid understanding of the financials.
Lesa feels that seeing her lead the company has taught her children lots about responsibility, and what you can get with hard work and perseverance. She hopes the biggest lesson they’ve learned is to look beyond themselves.
“We invest close to 15% of our net profit into helping communities in New Zealand and overseas.” – Lesa Davis
In 2015 Nitrogenx won a Silver Award in the Lead to Succeed programme sponsored by Kiwibank and a couple of years later they also won Best Small Business West and Employer of the Year 2017 in the Westpac Business Awards.
“I love to work on projects that advance the business. Do your homework, engage others with skills you don’t have, find someone who’s been there before to bounce ideas off, stay open to change, be prepared to work hard, it doesn’t just happen! Then step out and take a risk.” – Lesa Davis
Lesa and Kiwibank – partners through it all
Lesa describes Leon Bernie, her Business Banking Manager, as her ‘go to’ person. Kiwibank gave Lesa that first loan to make Nitrogenx her own and she feels she’s had their support the whole way through – every time she’s had to structure/re-structure loans and implement new ideas.
“Even though they may be supporting my business financially, it’s also about supporting me personally.” – Lesa Davis