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Broadband vital...Roger Donaldson says having the internet has made working from Waimate possible and successful. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Many of New Zealand’s letterboxes are being produced by a company based in Waimate.

Each month Roger and Janine Donaldson’s company distributes hundreds of plywood letterboxes from the old Waimate Motor Garage building to major hardware chains throughout New Zealand.

They are one of the biggest manufacturers of wooden letterboxes in the country and also produce kitset sawhorses, bird feeders and pre-school furniture.

But it has only been made achievable through doing business over the internet.

“If you were to ask me how important a good broadband connection is to us, I’d have to say it’s absolutely crucial – we couldn’t do what we do without it,” Mr Donaldson said.

When the Donaldsons bought the company in 2005, they inherited a paper-based invoicing system, with a phone system for remote orders.

Knowing that this would never work for the large retailers who make up the bulk of their customers, they quickly adopted electronic ordering, stock tracking and payment methods.

Mr Donaldson, a joiner and cabinetmaker by trade, said the business evolved as technology advanced in order to keep pace with its clients.

“You need to be integrated with your clients. It’s vital for retaining customers and growing the business.”

Today, orders arrive by email and are transferred to invoices using a cloud-based business management and accounting programme. Job sheets are generated in the cloud and, after the product is made, dispatch documents are prepared and transport automatically ordered through the internet.

The online system helps meet buyer expectations while cutting costs and freeing up more time to concentrate on maximising business potential.

Mr Donaldson said the cloud-based finance tool also tracked the work of North Island-based sales representatives, ensuring they were paid correctly while generating new sales information.