After over 20 years leading us, Richard Gardiner is handing over the reins to Jonathan Gardiner on 31st March 2021.
Today we want to formally thank Richard, look back on how far Total Utilities has come under his watch, and welcome Jonathan as our new MD.
The story starts in 1983 when Richard was transferred by GEC Turbine Generators from Rugby in England to Johannesburg. He worked in South Africa for a decade, initially at GEC before moving to the BOC Gases Group. He studied for his MBA at the School of Business Leadership at The University of South Africa prior to emigrating to New Zealand in 1993.
Before forming Total Utilities, Richard was Managing Director of Renold NZ and Ajax Fasteners. But by 1999 he was ‘over’ the corporate world.
“Deep down I had always wanted to row my own boat,” Richard says of his decision to step out on his own. And so began Total Utilities.
Total Utilities started as a specialist energy procurement business where Richard negotiated competitive energy contracts for commercial clients. In 2001, Richard’s wife, Linda came on board followed by their son Jonathan in 2004. Total Utilities was truly a family business from the get-go.
“What I like doing is building something new,” Richard says. Thanks to his international sales, power generation equipment and gas industry experience, he brought a new approach to utility procurement for New Zealand businesses. This coincided with the deregulation of the electricity industry following the Max Bradford reforms.
Our very first client was Maxwell Dry Cleaning in October 1999. Richard looks back on our humble beginnings with fond memories. In 2019 we celebrated our 20th birthday.
Total Utilities grew slowly but surely in the early years. In 2007, Chris Hargreaves joined us, a school friend of Jonathan’s!
Now, Total Utilities has a team of thirteen, six of whom have been here for over a decade and nine for over five years. Richard is particularly proud of holding on to his talented staff and the strong team culture that he’s helped build. Over the years our skillset has expanded and continues to do so. We’re not only gas and electricity industry experts but renewable energy, cloud computing and carbon reduction specialists too. Richard says that although we’re not the biggest players in the market, like New Zealand as a whole, we consistently punch above our weight. As such, our large client base in the public and private sectors nationally, includes both major corporates and much smaller businesses.
The world has changed a lot since 1999, not least with the rapid growth of new technologies, including cloud computing. Richard is proud that Total Utilities has always embraced new technologies and ways of thinking about energy. “Cloud computing made a hell of a difference during Covid which meant that successive lockdowns haven’t impacted us that much in the overall scheme of things. The world has changed and the decision to go tech future-proofed us.”
But don’t worry, Richard isn’t about to retire. He will continue to work in a business development and sales role at Total Utilities, and he remains a director and shareholder. This means he can still do what he loves. You get business continuity, and we don’t lose out on his valuable expertise.
Stepping back will give Richard more time to focus on his hobbies which include genealogy, reading, and supporting his beloved Ipswich football team and the NZ Warriors. He is a keen environmentalist too, and regularly volunteers at nature reserves in the Far North to do his bit to protect our environment from harmful invasive species.
Richard is excited to give: “Jonathan elbow room to put his stamp on things.” Richard says Jonathan and the talented group in their late thirties are the engine room of Total Utilities and the time feels right to pass the decision-making to the next generation.
Jonathan is looking forward to taking on the Managing Director role from 1st April 2021 onwards. He is particularly excited about ensuring Total Utilities is technology-led and expanding our skillset and offerings.
What will this look like in practice? Well, you can take it from us that we won’t be sitting on our hands!
Total Utilities is committed to sustainability; taking advantage of the latest technology to drive energy efficiencies and better visibility of consumption; advocating for reliable, affordable energy pricing for businesses across sectors; while helping New Zealand reduce our collective carbon footprint and make the switch to renewable energy.