Grabbing the goat by the horns
It took a bold approach for Reuben and Kylie Herrick to rebrand as Scape Goats back in 2018, motivated by a desire to shake things up and take their business to the next level. The move proved so successful that their next big decisions – investing in a digger and a FUSO Canter Tipper – became no-brainers.
Previously trading as Fence & Deck Co. – a name straight from the ‘what it says on the tin’ rulebook – Reuben and Kylie decided to disrupt the status quo and take things on a different tangent.
“When I started out, I wanted to keep things simple,” says Reuben, who has more than 20 years’ horticultural and landscaping experience under his belt.
“We grew fairly quickly and, as our overheads went up, we started pricing ourselves out of the low-end landscaping market. We could see there was more scope in bigger projects, which previously we were turning down.”
The switch in focus triggered a number of changes in the business. Kylie, who comes from a corporate background, joined the business in a part-time, and later full-time capacity, becoming Reuben’s business partner – a truly complementary husband and wife team.
Kylie brought a well-oiled set of organisational skills to the management side – as well as the brainwave that spawned the new name.
“It just came to me one night,” says Kylie. “We’d been working on a particularly steep hillside property and it had emphasised the need to be as nimble as a mountain goat to be a landscaper in Wellington.”
“Annoyingly, I knew right away it was the winner,” admits Reuben with a smile, who had been scratching his head for a name that resonated with the couple’s vision.
“People either love or hate it,” says Kylie, who wanted a brand that would stand out against the crowd. “We’ve had mixed reactions, but the main thing is that it sticks in people’s minds.”
“We wanted to take a craft beer approach to landscaping,” says Reuben, appropriately for a Wellingtonian (originally from Nelson).
The comparison stands up to scrutiny – this is a small business with a taste for innovation and a winning recipe to ensure customers keep coming back for more.
“The whole rebranding exercise has been huge for us,” says Kylie. “We’ve seen a big change in where our leads are coming from – with many having seen our vehicles on the road.”
The latest in the company’s eye-catching fleet is a new 6T Canter Tipper, a purchase which followed that of a 1.7T digger some months previously. While the ability to transport the digger without the need for hire trucks was one consideration, spiralling delivery costs for materials and an inability to carry large loads to site tipped them over the edge.
“I knew we’d make use of a truck,” says Reuben. “Our operations manager wanted us to buy one and a quick crunch of the numbers convinced us it was the way to go.”
Convinced by recommendations and their own experiences, FUSO Canter was the only truck on their radar.
“There was never an alternative for us. All the good feedback we’ve heard about the truck made it the clear choice,” says Reuben.
“It was one of the easiest purchases we’ve made,” adds Kylie. “The whole process has been excellent and servicing from Diesel & Equipment Services has been fantastic.”
The Canter has been busy “19 days out of 20” in its six months on the job.
“We just can’t imagine the business without it now,” says Kylie. “The fact that any of our team can drive it on a regular licence is an added bonus.”
Reuben has been behind the wheel and says it handles “really well – it’s ideal for working around Wellington, accessing tight driveways, and it spins on a dime”.
“The best thing is that we’re masters of our own destiny. We can take on larger projects without having to assess if we can handle the job, because we know we have the gear to get it done. I’d definitely buy another Canter if things keep heading in the right direction.”
With a robust blend of industry know-how, sharp business practices and the best tools and people for the job, Scape Goats is a business that’s excelling at its craft – and enjoying the process.
Pictured: Goat-getters – Reuben and Kylie Herrick (plus helpers/hinderers Charlie and Daisy) with what is surely one of the best-dressed Canter 616 Tippers on the road!
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Service intervals: 30,000km