Lockdown spur for couple’s new venture

Turning adversity into advantage ... Liz Williams is excited about the launch of a new cleaning...
Turning adversity into advantage ... Liz Williams is excited about the launch of a new cleaning business. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
It is unlikely many new businesses have been started during the Covid-19 lockdown.

But Alexandra couple Mike and Liz Williams have done just that, turning the difficult situation they found themselves in, as owners of a campervan rental company, into something positive.

The Pod Campervan Rentals was now ‘‘hibernating’’ at their three branches in Queenstown, Christchurch and Auckland, until tourists were able to return to New Zealand.

Mrs Williams quipped the couple spent the first week of lockdown ‘‘drinking too much wine and lamenting this’’.

But, in the second week, they decided to start another company — focused on the domestic market — to tide them over until tourists returned.

The requirements of setting up and registering a business could all be done online and so they set up Phoenix Cleaning Services Ltd.

Already they had a few contracts in place and, as they got more work, they would be offering jobs to their Pod staff to help get them through.

‘‘Our camper van company will still be around when the clients return, but at the moment we are enjoying the buzz of starting something new,’’ Mrs Williams said.

Pod was started by Mr Williams in 2011 at the tail-end of the Global Financial Crisis. The couple were both police officers; Mr Williams was officer in charge at Cromwell, and his wife a detective sergeant in Alexandra.

Wanting a change from the police, Mr Williams started the business with three camper vans. After several years getting it up and running, they decided they needed to inject some money into the company to make it grow.

They spent five years in Alice Springs, joining the Northern Territory police, where Mrs Williams was in the mounted police and Mr Williams was a senior sergeant.

They returned in 2018, after which the business had gone from strength to strength until Covid-19 hit.

Now they were excited about the cleaning business, with Mrs Williams saying they needed to stay flexible as the camper van company was ‘‘still there’’ waiting to restart.

‘‘I’m pretty optimistic. It’s a mindset, isn’t it? Either wallow or get going. Ideally, it’d be great to have two successful companies in two years’ time,’’ she said.

sally.rae@odt.co.nz

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