Perspectives from ISB

Pat Menzies was 19 when he got a job at Spencer Wade shoe store in the then brand new Canterbury Arcade on Auckland’s Queen Street. Just a few years later, in the early 1970s, Wade offered his employee the opportunity to take over the business, and in 1975 the shoe shop was reopened as Pat Menzies Shoes for Men.

His daughter Michelle says, “Dad’s always been a great buyer, in terms of brands he brought on, and seeing trends coming and going.”

Though the Queen Street store was a hangout for her and her brother during school holidays, Michelle came on board in an official capacity just a few years back, but says Pat Menzies has always been very much a family business.

“I have an advertising background, but when I started having kids and while they were still really young I felt like I needed to get my head into something. I saw what was happening with online, websites and social media and said to dad, ‘If you don’t jump in now you’re going to miss the boat.”

“And after a while when he could see that it was all working really well, I think he just relaxed a bit more and started seeing that we could work together really well.

Another shoe business with a firm family history is Ziera, who last year celebrated 70 years of trade. “Being a family business I think we’re all somewhat involved since birth,” jokes managing director Andrew Robertson, whose grandfather David founded the company with his brother-in-law Mervyn Adams in 1946.

“They saw that ill-fitting and uncomfortable footwear damaged feet and made life a misery,” says Andrew. “Their dream was to improve the foot health and happiness of women in New Zealand.”

Andrew says family businesses have “a unique advantage of providing leadership from a stable group that lasts decades. By having consistent guidance we foster a sense of ‘family’ with all of our team. We’ve been so lucky to have so many longstanding people on our team, and their experience and loyalty are a real benefit to the business.”

While many Kiwis will be familiar with footwear company Overland – who recently rebranded to Merchant 1948 – they may not know that the nationwide retail chain has been in one family since it was founded by Guglielmo Anselmi, known as Bill, in the late 1940s.

Source: Steenhart, Josie., February 22 2017,