When Dutch immigrant Eddie Grooten made his first batch of pies in 1981, he had no idea that 35 years later he'd be running a multi-million-pie business with more than 70 staff - and that he'd be able to offer every one of his team Southern Cross health insurance.
Eddie Grooten's story may sound like a fairy tale, but it's much more one of hard work, long hours and bloody-minded determination.
Established in a tiny - and until then, struggling shop in Auckland's Red Beach, Dad's Pies has become a Kiwi success story. From its much-improved, purpose built facility in Silverdale, it produces more than 13 million pies and pastries a year, dispatching them to BP stations and supermarkets throughout New Zealand and to export markets around the world. Packed with wholesome, fresh ingredients, every pie comes with a promise of premium quality and delicious, succulent flavours in every mouthful.
Asked about the secret to his success, Eddie says that in large part it's having smart, passionate, supportive people around him. Now he's turning that around - supporting his own team by offering them fully subsidised Southern Cross health insurance, and great discounts for their families.
A decision for good
Eddie didn't need to be convinced of the importance and value of health insurance; he already had a policy of his own. "It's like any insurance; you hope you never need it," he says. "But when you do need it, it's the best thing you've ever done."
Having long wanted to offer health insurance to his staff, Eddie was delighted when the business reached the stage where it became both practical and affordable. He says his motive was simple.
"I wanted our staff to understand that we truly care about their welfare," he says. "Over the years I've seen a lot of people struggling with ongoing health issues that affect their ability to enjoy life. Then there are those who suffer illnesses and injuries, who have to wait for treatment while they're feeling unwell or in pain."
"We did our research, and the bottom line was that Southern Cross gave best value for money. They also offered to cover pre-existing conditions for everybody - and that was the clincher for me."
A surgical saviour
The insurance package couldn't have come at a better time for Bakery Supervisor David Cleverley. Having had a hernia operation in the early 2000s, he recognised quickly that he was experiencing the symptoms of another one - and the soreness was getting worse.
"My doctor referred me to a specialist, who after some tests told me that I didn't have one hernia; I had two," he says. "I put in a claim to Southern Cross and within a couple of weeks I'd had the surgery and was home recovering. I couldn't believe it - last time I needed surgery I was on a public waiting list for about eight months."
David has nothing but good to say about the Southern Cross experience. "They explained what was going to happen and basically took care of everything. They made it all easy."
David's now back at work, and not a moment too soon. As one of just two bakery supervisors he has a critical role in ensuring the smooth running of the production line. That occasionally means lifting a heavy bin or two, a task that he now performs pain-free
Eddie sees David's situation as a clear validation of his decision to offer health insurance.
"It's a no-brainer," he says. "For an investment of a few cents an hour we're helping people to be healthy and happy, both at work and at home - and from what I hear, Southern Cross is great to deal with and proactive in managing claims and resolving any issues. In fact, I reckon I'm Southern Cross's biggest promotor. I'm telling everyone I know they should be offering health insurance too!"