GDM offers opportunities for young people

September 21, 2022

Michael Eden is often on the lookout, browsing shops to garner ideas for ways he can design retail spaces that attract customers and encourage them to spend more in store.

After 40 years, GDM has a series of large warehouses, a manufacturing base and head office in Whanganui, with sales offices in Brisbane and Auckland. With a New Zealand and international client base ranging from The Warehouse, Mitre 10, Whitcoulls to Noel Leeming, GDM employs 60 staff yet often flies under the radar in the local community.

So GDM are encouraging schools and young people to visit, via initiatives such as 100% SWEET and Whanganui’s Port Employment Precinct.

“We’ve been here 40 years and the general Whanganui public have no clue. So we are actively bringing in busloads from schools so they can see first-hand what we are about and the career opportunities on offer,” says managing director Michael Eden.

Michael believes that by raising GDM’s local profile, they will build connections with local suppliers and attract more staff.

GDM’s impressive joinery area based in Whanganui

GDM’s future employees

Michael is focused on school leavers as GDM’s future workers.

“If they come to us with the right attitude, we can teach them the skills,” he says.

Historically, GDM has been heavily involved with getting more people into trades – as founding members of INTRANZ, they support people to be work-ready.

“We encourage a culture of learning for our staff, in that way we can build our own team of skilled tradespeople.”

“There are around 600 students leaving school each year here in Whanganui and around a quarter of those are heading off to University, we want to grab the attention of those kids and reveal to them that there is an alternative, an alterative of earning while you learn.”

“There are so many jobs on offer at the moment, providing a wealth of opportunities for young people.”

Young staff can start at GDM in an apprenticeship or cadetship role, enabling them to get a taste of different areas of the business. They can then choose a speciality to go into.

Its not just school leavers GDM are looking for.

“We take university graduates, particularly those with computer-aided drawing (CAD) skills,” says Michael.

“We are also attracting those who have started out at University and have realised it’s not for them.”

“We are offering hands on learning with a support network around these young people, it’s a fantastic opportunity and the skills they learn can be transferred elsewhere.”

“That said, we are looking for people who will commit to GDM and give back what we put into them.”

Image: Victoria Newland of GDM received the RED Star Award in 2020. This award recognises stars of the future in the retail interiors industry.

An evolving industry

There is never a dull day at GDM with retailers now demanding regular refreshes for their stores.

“While retailers needs are evolving, we and our customers are also conscious of being sustainable. We create quality products which will endure the test of time, and/or are recyclable,” says Michael.

“Our goal is to avoid our products going to landfill, and generally our fixtures get handed down.”

A case in point was the recent refresh of Whanganui’s Farmers store. Some of the original fixtures GDM made for Farmers 30 years ago are still there and being used.

What the customer wants

Michael believes the way a product is displayed translates to its sales success.

“If products are displayed in a way that engages with shoppers, highlighting their benefits, they are more likely to be purchased,” he says.

“We create interactive displays, store-in-store products, shelving systems, click and collect, self-service checkouts, you name it and we do it.”

Locally, Honda’s marine services store on Taupo Quay has recently been upgraded by GDM.

“The new Honda store is a classic example of experiential retail, products have been presented in a way in which you can look and touch, encouraging interaction with store staff and ultimately lead to sales.”

The latest bathroom accessories are now on display in Whanganui’s Mitre 10 with the conclusion of a roll out to all the stores across the country, all attached and completed in our factory.

While NZ Glassworks on Rutland St have more display units to show off the product at their site also.

Meanwhile GDM is focused on incorporating more technology into their manufacturing base, while also growing their business in Australia.

“Australia is a completely different market which will open a lot of doors for us, we are really excited about our prospects there.”

To find out more about the clever products GDM creates, along with employment opportunities, please visit

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