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A family’s custard square legacy

June, 2020

By: Catherine Beard

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The Timaru-based Templeton family is building a custard square legacy.

Denheath was originally a café, which Lisa Templeton’s parents purchased in 1996 because they loved the custard squares. In fact, Lisa’s mother Carol loved the custard square so much she believed it had potential to be sold worldwide.

In 1999, when Carol became terminally ill, husband and wife team Donald and Lisa stepped in to run the business and the pair promised Carol they would take Denheath nationwide and international.

“In 2000, we were a single product company offering a big unique fluffy custard square, the classic Kiwi treat that started it all,” Lisa said.

Now Denheath has broadened into desserts and they supply foodservice and retail stores nationwide, as well as exporting overseas.

Online sales have grown year after year and there are no signs of slowing.

The challenge of growth

With the business continually growing and Donald and Lisa constantly looking for more opportunities, they have had to overcome some major hurdles.

“There have been many challenges in the 20-years we have run Denheath,” Lisa said. “Our recent big challenge was getting certified with a dairy RMP so we can continue to export.

“Red tape can be crazy. Likewise export paperwork with new export customers can be extremely difficult and challenging.”

Covid-19 lockdown meant Denheath was not able to supply any foodservice customers and some retailers, and not all their pre-covid customers will reopen. Donald and Lisa were also progressing several potential export opportunities that were halted as overseas economies suffered the effects of lockdown.

The pair are thankful for the support they received from NZTE, friends, family and custard-loving followers. Their advice for budding entrepreneurs is to seek and adopt advice as much as possible.

“Look for people who have already had some experience in the fields you are working in and ask for advice.

“Work with NZTE and any government agencies, industry organisations and local Chamber of Commerce’s. Businesses need guidance to help grow.

“And stay positive and back yourself.” Said Lisa.

Recipe for success

Being a Kiwi company, Denheath has access to the highest quality New Zealand grown ingredients.

“We love what we do and work in beautiful Timaru and have a port at our door for export. New Zealand is trusted internationally and sought after.

“Also, kiwi companies are more likely to work together, collaborate and help each other along the way.” She said.

For the Templetons, Denheath’s success is grounded in late Carol’s vision:

“My mother had a dream that Denheath and her custard squares would become nationally and internationally known and we are continually working hard to make it happen for her.

“If we were corporate enough to ever write a mission statement, achieving her dream would be it.”

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