I was a farming cadet but later ended up moving into signwriting when my father wanted to retire from the trade, there was an opportunity waiting there for me. I did a crash course apprenticeship, in those days all lettering was done with a paintbrush, I guess that dates me.
I soon ended up expanding with several of my own sign shops in Auckland. I was running my own business at 20. I bought one of the first computerised vinyl cutters in the country for similar money as I could buy a small house. That was innovation and progress.
Fast forward 10 years, I gave away signwriting, sold the companies and went full time as a landscape painter – living the quiet country life as an artist.
The Lonely Dog concept happened on the side, about 15 years ago. I started by mucking about with a paint brush, conceptualising dog characters, inspired by my own dogs and their personalities.
Operating from my home studio then was pretty low key.
Fifteen years ago we stepped up to lease a large retail space in Queenstown's CBD to establish an art gallery, this came with a lot of overheads. There's staff, contracts, wages, GST and everything else which is like a rubics cube to me.
We began growing the Lonely Dog character and soon found ourselves creating a brand.
First up we had to get that protected, and from there other companies and entities stemmed from that. Hunter McLeod have helped us all along the way and have been fantastic.
"They do what they do, which let’s me get on with the creative."
I give credit to the team at Hunter McLeod.
The gallery in town largely runs itself, managed by a great team. I refer to them as my bosses. We’ve got systems in place that were largely put in place by Hunter McLeod and we stick with them. I must confess, I’ve actually never been on Xero or Vend. The artist in me doesn’t like numbers. I just have to leave that part of the business to someone else. For me, I think if things can’t be delegated and managed, then I shouldn’t be in that business. Hunter McLeod take care of the small stuff as well enabling the business to work for us by taking care of things behind the scenes. Systems have all been implemented by Hunter Mcleod and there’s been modifications and upgrades along the way.
" They take care of everything else."
Running a business.
I enjoy having an intelligent team around me who are in sync with Hunter McLeod. They keep the tax man from the door. If the IRD comes knocking, I’ll invite them in for a cup of tea and tell them to go see Caleb [Hunter McLeod]. That’s the experience of having professionals behind you, you have trust in your team.
So its my view that the Accountant should keep the wolves away. Accounting and all the small stuff makes my eyes glaze over. Hunter McLeod have been great with keeping us current and everything up to speed.