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A Success Story of Horses and Engineering

Pictured: BSP Advisor Phil Wicks with Thoroughbred Floats co-owner Mark Aarts

Pictured: BSP Advisor Phil Wicks with Thoroughbred Floats co-owner Mark Aarts

Many of our clients are undergoing The BSP Advisory Business Success Programme, with the end goal of exiting their businesses more profitably.

We already have a great success story on this scenario in our September post here.

There are many other business owners on the programme are all about building a solid profitable foundation for today and increasing financial security and freedom.

Having a profitable, systemised business means not only a better lifestyle for the owners, but also a better bargaining position when it does come time to exit the business.

Today we will look at Thoroughbred Horsefloats and Thoroughbred Engineering who have kindly agreed to share their story in the hope of helping others.

Alanna and Mark Aarts of Tuakau in the Waikato region own the businesses.

The original business (Horse Floats) was purchased in 2011.

Alanna and Mark Aarts started working with BSP Advisory Group in 2019 with Cambridge-based advisor Phil Wicks.

Soon after working with Phil the lockdowns occurred and so did the challenges of getting orders out.

Overcoming this eventually through internal leadership development and pure resilience, eventually the boom times slowed and with rising interest rates it was clear we were in for a long slowdown for many sectors.


Like many businesses post Covid, sales slowed down tremendously and many businesses were looking for a different approach.

In the Thoroughbred Horse Floats case, there was an opportunity to use the existing skills in the business and form another division.

The horse float manufacturing business consists of many components such as welding, panel painting, fitting suspensions, local compliance, sandblasting, and panel beating.

Building quality horse floats meant a new division could be created focused on general engineering using existing skills within the business and of course existing equipment.

The company was already doing some repairs for local businesses and bus companies which consisted of Box bodies and tail-lift installations, RV and Caravan repairs, Bus repairs, leaks, sandblasting axels, suspension replacements, axel repairs and mods, body swaps and assistance with WOF’s.

So it made perfect sense to start an engineering division and market these amazing services.

Introducing Thoroughbred Engineering.

Alanna Arts notes that the expansion was vital for survival and growth during the uncertain times brought about by the pandemic and to date the extra investment is paying dividends.

Challenges and Strategic Response:

The initial challenges included reliance on the owners and the need for skilled personnel. Thoroughbred Floats responded by evaluating existing staff capabilities and fostering skill development to adapt to the new business model. The pandemic further highlighted the need to pivot from luxury items to more versatile business offerings.

Partnership with BSP Advisory Group:

In 2019, the partnership with BSP Advisory Group marked a turning point. Priorities were set on improving systems, processes, and profitability. Alanna emphasises the value of BSP's guidance in navigating through uncertainty and spearheading strategic directions that were initially unfamiliar.

Leadership development

A key strategy was to introduce senior leaders and trust their expertise in enhancing business operations. Inclusivity of younger perspectives, like bringing their son into the management team, infused fresh ideas and cultural shifts. This approach not only diversified business opportunities but also instilled a sense of security and trust within the company.

Impact of leadership development

Leadership development allowed for effective delegation, reducing over-dependence on the owners. This shift resulted in new business avenues and a more robust, secure business model, where the company could operate efficiently even in the owners' absence.

Current outlook and future prospects

Today, Thoroughbred Floats views its business through a new lens of strength and resilience. With robust leadership, a thriving team culture, and potential succession plans involving their son, the company envisions a future of continued success and innovation.

Role of BSP Advisory Group:

Alanna credits BSP, particularly Phil, for being a lifeline during tough times. His role as a sounding board, strategist, and accountability partner was instrumental in the company's rapid and effective decision-making and progress.


Alanna's journey with Thoroughbred Floats and Engineering is a testament to the power of strategic succession planning and leadership development. Their story serves as an inspiration and a blueprint for business owners aiming for sustainable growth, culture enhancement, and successful leadership transition.