Above: Randle Major today, after almost 50 years in the industry.
The subject of our May 2008 “Hardware Heroes” series was Randle Major, founder of Acme Supplies, who we described as “a man of undoubted energy with a passion for the hardware industry”.
With a year or so to run before hitting the official retirement age, Randle said at the time: “The company’s been good to us as a family. We’ve worked hard in the industry and made many good friends. That’s why it’s difficult to give up.”
But, 10 years later, give it up (at least to some extent) is what he’s doing.
Two years short of his half century in hardware, at the end of June 2018 Randle Major will step back from the day to day running of Acme Supplies.
Randle still has plenty of pride in and enthusiasm for the family business but it will be run henceforth by his son in law, Lindsay Knowles, as the new Managing Director, with son James continuing as a Director and Randle as Chairman.
But let’s rewind a few years.
When we talked for the May 2008 magazine, Randle had just finished helping unload a 40-foot container (see photo above).
Clearly still keen as mustard to be hands-on in the business, the fit 64 year-old said unloading that container he felt “just like a kid with a Christmas present” and that enthusiasm remains to this day.
Today, asked about the secret of Acme’s success and longevity, Randle Major still believes you have to be hands-on.
“The trick has been to not only understand the market but also to get your hands dirty as it were, to get deeply involved and to look after the market so that people come to realise that indeed you are the captain of the of the industry in your chosen sector.”
Randle also pays tribute to the iconic brands Acme started off with and still represents today, namely Rapid and Tajima.
It’s not been an easy task for a privately held Kiwi company to retain such globally well-known brands (“it’s a tremendous responsibility” says Randle).
But, armed with “ethics and loyalty and passion and private ownership”, Acme has done just that.
Still, he warns against complacency: “You may think you own something but, I tell you, you are but a guardian.”
That may be but, under the family’s guardianship, Acme and its brands are in as strong a position as ever.
“In my view the hardware industry is in good shape right now,” says Randle.
“If companies like us aren’t doing well servicing the hardware industry at this time, they’re doing something wrong because this is a golden moment – I’ve never seen such demand for our product as right now.”
Certain in the knowledge that Randle Major still has passion aplenty for his family business and for his chosen industry, he will no doubt continue to keep an eye on the company he started.
However, in terms of life after Acme, Randle simply says: “I want to be around enjoying life with my wife, Carol, and enjoying some of the fruits of my years of fun… because it has been fun!”