3 March 2021
A 6am dash from North Shore Hospital wasn’t the start Cam Caithness was expecting for the big opening day of his new Mitre 10 MEGA Warkworth store. He and his wife Celia hadn’t slept, after their son was rushed to hospital at midnight the night before with a serious case of croup.
Cam remembers the day well: “The weeks leading up to the opening were frantic. We had a team new to retail, tens of thousands of items to put on the shelves and various events to organise. We worked very long hours and Celia was pregnant with our second son, who was due in April. I left hospital in time to open the doors at 7am, without any sleep, and not knowing if anyone would turn up to see the new store!”
Having returned from Celia’s homeland, Spain, in September 2009, the couple took on the old Mitre 10 Solutions and Garden Centre stores in Queen Street, Warkworth. It quickly became apparent that the fast-growing community needed a bigger, better home improvement offering. Cam teamed up with local developers Neil (Sandy) Barr and Geoff McNaughton, the pair behind a proposed retail complex at Stockyard Falls, to anchor the development with a new Mitre 10 MEGA store.
Ground works and construction started in the winter of 2010, with many local contractors involved in building and fitting out the store. The recruitment drive to staff the store created 40 new jobs for the community. Working closely with the local WINZ office, which is still does, Mitre 10 MEGA helped many people looking to re-enter the workforce find employment, and many of those original team members are still with the store today.
As the store neared completion, the reality of closing the old one hit. A relationship that continues today was formed when Cam contacted Gary Diprose from Springboard to provide labour to empty and clean the store. Springboard creates opportunities for young people to achieve positive outcomes and pathways to success, and Mitre 10 MEGA Warkworth and its sister stores sell firewood which helps fund the organisation.
The big day, 11 March 2011 arrived, and finally Cam and Celia opened the doors to welcome their customers.
“We had massive support from the community. The store was pumping – the excitement was palpable and our team were buzzing. We had Levi Vaoga, the ‘Big is Good’ MEGA man in town and Black Caps playing cricket in the aisles. The day was a roaring success. Then when I got home that night, well ready to get some sleep, we turned on the news and the Japan tsunami had just struck. We saw a container ship being washed into the streets of Fukushima… What a day!”