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Branching out into glamping

Tauranga-based fencing contractor Darryn Astill has found glamping construction – a niche market to diversify into which he sees as a growing market.

Having been fencing for 14 years, his business Ground Up Services recently fell into the glamping and landscape construction area. Some mates and clients had engaged him to build and convert sheds, turning them into outdoor entertaining areas or hideaways, adding decking and other additions to transform them.

He then picked up work constructing framing and flooring for glamping yurts.

 

FROM FENCING TO YURTS

It all started pretty simply, he said.  “I was doing a fencing job for a mate and… he said he wanted to build a bar down by the river.”

He also built a shed by a pond for an orchard client which turned into a fantastic entertaining area. Another project has been converting a woolshed into a “bit of a boys’ room”.

“It all sort of started from there. It just sort of evolved.” Down the track, a friend was cutting a site for a yurt and got Darryn in to build the floor and the decking around it.

From there, more people became aware of Darryn’s new services. “One of the wedding venues down the road heard about me. “I did one glamping site for them and now they’re now wanting four more (yurts).”

WHAT IS GLAMPING?

Glamping is often located in secluded and off the beaten track areas for maximum privacy, which Darryn said could pose some access challenges.

“It’s generally not smack bang in the middle of a paddock. Some of the sites aren’t easy to get to.” It often involved cutting material by hand and “lumping” packets of timber down to the site, which added time and labour to the job. The floors of the yurts also take a bit of planning to make them circular.

But he was enjoying the variety of work in this area, which had offered another branch to the business, and is on track to grow as glamping became more popular, Darryn said.

“I’m onto the guy that does the screw in piles (for yurts), so he’s aware of what I do.” He doesn’t price or estimate work, charging an hourly rate and some margin in the materials.

 

BUT THAT’S NOT ALL

Yurt-building isn’t the only thing Darryn and his wife Jill have diversified into. They also purchased the local KiwiSpan steel shed franchise in October this year, having been a client for some time.
“The owner had mentioned in April he was going to sell. We managed to make it work.”

Darryn started his fencing business in 2007 and it grew from there. Many of the local clients wanted sheds built. “We started with pole sheds and ended up purchasing kitsets from KiwiSpan and building them for our fencing clients.” The foray into the shed business is paying off with nine sold in the last month and 19 builds on the go. He is now full time in the shed side of the business and has two crews out building them with one crew carrying on the fencing.

“I’ve had to drop everything else at the moment.”

With a background in engineering, building and farming, he had a number of tools to his belt to branch out into. Fortuitously, he also employed a qualified builder early on, so the transition into construction was easy.

“When you get skilled labour that can do that sort of stuff, it helps. “We became a bit of a one-stop shop for clients. We can pretty much do anything.”

 

A BRIGHT FUTURE

Diversifying into other areas had shored up his business and future prospects. “Fencing around here is (limited)… lots of small lifestyle blocks and things. The larger jobs are council jobs… (but) they’re getting few and far between depending on funding.”

He enjoyed fencing for the outdoors, keeping fit, and getting some vitamin D. But adding some more strings to his bow gave him security into the future. “At the end of the day, I wasn’t going to be able to fence forever. My long-term goal is to fence part-time and maybe set the guys up to take over in the future.”

Ground Up Services
www.groundupservices.co.nz

www.facebook.com/groundupservicesltd

Article written by: Rosa Watson

Published in the Diversity in Fencing feature of WIRED December 2021 by Fencing Contractors NZ