August 10, 2022
Nick started working at PTL 16 years ago, but he’s been emersed in the business ever since he can remember. His father, Jim Halliday, started the company over three decades ago, so Nick was there from PTL’s earliest days.
Chocolate and bar machinery are in Nick’s blood. After exploring other careers and gaining valuable experience in his early adulthood, he returned to be part of PTL’s continuing story.
“I have a massive amount of respect for what PTL has already done,” says Nick. “I feel privileged to fly the flag and tell the story to our customers.”
An early intro to chocolate
With a dad working in a chocolate factory, you can bet there were parts of Nick’s childhood that seemed like a dream scenario. With the 80s’ lighter health and safety restrictions, on weekends Nick could roam around the Van Camp chocolate factory where Jim worked.
“I had full access – you couldn’t do that nowadays. The boss used to tell me, ‘You can take out as many chocolates as you can carry off the end of the production line,’” says Nick.
It was a challenge accepted – Nick would turn his shirt into a make-shift sack and use the spoils to become extremely popular at school.
It wasn’t all chocolate theft, though. When Jim started PTL from the family garage, Nick watched his dad’s innovative spirit at work. Nick even earned spending money doing odd jobs around the factory on weekends.
“I was always really impressed and proud of what Dad had created. He left school early but was super practical and could not just make chocolate machinery but also sell it, design it, build it and install it, all from scratch. I thought that was fascinating,” explains Nick.
Shortly after launching, Jim brought on Mike Nevines, who today leads the company’s technical side.
Exploring the world
But, of course, Nick had to cut his own path. Interested in sport and hospitality, he worked around Europe for a while before completing a degree in business and spending summers working on resorts surrounding the Great Barrier Reef. Another stint in Europe saw him teaching English in Madrid and managing pubs in England.
After a while, Nick noticed his dad’s workload increasing. Finally, Jim popped the question.
“He said, ‘I have a stack of papers two feet high.’ He just wasn’t getting to it and asked me to come back and help with the business side of things. I agreed to come back for a year to see how it went.”
He’s been with PTL ever since.
Returning to the fold
Nick was immediately excited about the opportunity he saw with PTL – it had been successful without any promotion.
“I thought there was a lot of opportunity to have an influence on the business, and right from day one, Dad put an amazing amount of trust in me.”
Nick felt his overseas work was a bit aimless at the time, but he now knows how valuable the experience was.
“It was really good training in sales and customer service. I got the most satisfaction out of making sure even the toughest customers left happy,” says Nick.
His role in PTL sees him advocating both for the customers to internal teams and for designers to the customers – something his hospitality career set him up for.
“There’s always a risk that we could be designing something the customers don’t actually want. Being able to fly the flag for both parties means we can avoid that,” he explains.
The American connection
Within a year of his return to PTL, Nick was accompanying Jim overseas on sales trips. At his first trade expo in Chicago, he met the American woman who would later become his wife. A chance encounter in a bar sparked a whirlwind romance and just weeks after the meeting, she was in New Zealand.
“It all happened amazingly quickly,” laughs Nick.
But after 12 years of marriage and three sons, that speed can’t have done the couple any harm. They spent six years living in the United States, time Nick used to strengthen PTL’s relationships with its North American clients.
Now back in New Zealand, the couple still keeps close family and business ties with the US.
Nick eventually took over from Jim as PTL’s managing director and hasn’t looked back. He’s actively involved in NCA and PMCA, and a guest lecturer at the annual University of Wisconsin Madison bar course.
But his core focus is on continuing and building on the legacy his dad created – an established, family-owned business.
“I love turning up at people’s doors, opening up my laptop, showing them what we do, and hearing, ‘Wow!’ and, ‘You’ve really thought about this!’” he says.
“It’s my job to make decisions that will ensure we’re still just as innovative in thirty more years.”