Jordan Ritson, 26, is the proud owner of HELL Levin, one of three HELL on Wheels stores in New Zealand, with the other two based in Whanganui and Kumeu.
Opening his store in January 2019, Jordan worked at HELL Strathmore before becoming an owner at just 25. We asked him to tell us a bit more about his journey from Minion to Master, and what he’s learnt along the way.
Why did you decide to buy a HELL store?
Have you ever seen the TV show Shark Tank? Entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to investors, who decide whether to invest in the company. I’ve always loved that show and Kitchen Nightmares. When I was five, I really wanted to own a dairy, mainly because I thought you could eat all the lollies and live at home. So, I guess it’s always been a dream to own my own business.
I left College before completing Year 13 - I knew I didn’t want to go University and wanted to start working and creating a future for myself. Initially, I studied Small Business Management before working in a range of hospitality roles around Wellington, joining HELL Strathmore in 2015.
A few years ago my grandfather passed away, leaving me some shares. I always looked up to him, I guess you can call him my ‘business spirit animal’. I knew I wanted to do something worthy with his shares, either by purchasing a home or a business so when the opportunity came up to own a slice of HELL last year, I knew the time was right.
How did you find the right place?
I saw early on during my time at HELL Strathmore the potential of owning a franchise, especially after I took on a management role. We were close to Wellington’s moviemaking centre, so some days we would get a whole day’s worth of orders in one go from the local film producers.
In 2018 I started looking at sites around Wellington - we searched high and low - but I decided to look further north as I couldn’t find the right place. I could see the potential in Levin straight away - it’s a busy and developing town. That’s where the HELL caravan came in - operating just like any other store, it can get up and running quickly without the need for a full store fit-out. It was perfect for Levin.
Then it was a waiting game - I spent a few months looking at potential sites and when the Oxford Street spot came up, I was on the phone straight away. The rest is history.
Can you tell us a bit more about owning a business in Levin?
At first, I was still living in Wellington and commuting to Levin, but after opening, I quickly realised I needed to be close to the store and made the move to Levin not long after. I’m on my way to being a ‘local’ - it’s my adopted home.
The one piece of advice I would give to potential owners is to live close to where you work - it allows you to be more hands-on in the business and become a true part of the community.
In just 10 months, our staff has grown to seven (including me). I’m lucky to have a great crew, who love HELL as much as I do.
Since opening, I’ve been working with the Horowhenua District Council to create a community space near the store. I really want to create a vibe - an open and welcoming space for people to meet, and I’m hoping it will include art, games, seating and gardens. I’m really excited about creating a bright, welcoming area in the heart of Levin.
How has HELL helped you to succeed?
I’m stoked to be in HELL, the last four years have been amazing.
love owning a HELL franchise. The model is adaptive, and the network is strong. I’ve had help along the way from other owners and HELL’s Head Office is open to new ideas and works closely with store owners. I think the brand is about being creative and responsive. I like to think of it like being a village - collectively we lift each other up.
HELL provides us with monthly reports, which help me set goals - and reduce aspects like delivery times. I can use this data to help get my team excited about working smarter, and better. Without all this information from our head office, I wouldn’t be thinking about times to the extent I am.
I’m excited about the future - in five years’ time I want to have my business loan paid off and have bought a house.
We’ll leave the last word to one of Jordan’s team, Sam.
“Jordan is a really caring boss. He’s been in hospo his whole life, so he knows what it’s like to start at an entry-level role. Jordan does his job at the same level as everyone else, he works alongside us, he’s also really understanding and looks after our wellbeing”.
If you’re keen to own a slice of HELL, we’d love to hear from you. You can find out more here.