Producing refrigeration, sanitation systems, kitchens appliances and additives for caravans and motorhomes, Thetford Australia is a company on the move.
A global motorhome amenities powerhouse and inventor of the Porta Potti, Thetford has only had a physical presence in Australia since 2006, but in that short time has more than cemented its place as a local industry leader.
In addition to providing roaming Australians with the means to live comfortably on the road, Director and Executive General Manager Daniel Dunn believes Thetford Australia’s success all comes down to good old-fashioned customer service with a smile.
With over 20 years’ experience in the automotive industry, Dunn was first approached by Thetford in 2013 and again in 2018 for the role of Executive General Manager – AU/NZ.
"I was working with aftermarket auto parts provider Bapcor and was fulfilled by the opportunities and challenges that it presented me with," Dunn recalls.
"So I declined the offer with gratitude. Thetford called me back and made me an offer I couldn’t refuse."
Dunn says he attributes his decision to move to Thetford Australia to the company’s impressive potential, strong company values and the opportunity to work within the leisure industry.
"I really like the fact that we are an honorable company and what we say we’re going to do, we do. We stand by our word," Dunn says.
Turning the corner
Dunn relished reorganizing the business by creating new business strategies, restructuring teams and building close relationships with industry bodies such as the National Caravan Industry Training College.
He even relocated the company’s headquarters in order to facilitate growth – an approach that has seen Thetford Australia almost triple in size since he started.
We are an honorable company and what we say we’re going to do, we do. We stand by our word.
The COVID-19 pandemic obviously hit the recreational vehicle industry hard. But what’s surprising is how well Thetford Australia managed to survive and thrive.
Thetford’s management team worked tirelessly to look after their people, with not a single person losing their job during the pandemic. While staff wellbeing was the main focus, Dunn also knew that he’d need all hands on deck once the pandemic was over.
By retaining staff and keeping the supply chain open, the company was able to move quickly when the opportunity arose and take significant parts of market share. But it wasn’t easy by any means.
"We had about a six-month dip, where we had almost zero sales," Dunn says. "But I took a gamble in believing that when we eventually emerged from the pandemic, business would boom and I was right, thankfully.
"So I kept all my stock coming and we ended up being busier than we’ve ever been in our lives."
Putting customers first
Dunn is proud of the relationships his staff have with their customers, claiming that it is this connection that makes them stand head and shoulders above competitors.
"Without any doubt, we are renowned for our service. Our team aims to resolve problems before they become a real issue," he says.
Leadership is about putting the team before yourself and letting them shine, rather than taking the credit for every last decision in the business.
Operating with a top-down approach, even Dunn himself will jump in his car to deliver an essential part to a customer when required, proving that no matter what your job title, it’s teamwork that makes this dream work.
"Leadership is about putting the team before yourself and letting them shine, rather than taking the credit for every last decision in the business," Dunn explains.
Despite all his achievements, Dunn is determined to make Thetford a household name in Australia, beyond just the outdoor community.
With a comprehensive social media and ecommerce strategy currently engaging as many people as possible, it is surely just a matter of time before he gets his wish.