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Start With A Vision, Says Trends Entrepreneur

Press Release – Trends Publishing

Publishing has not been immune from the economic downturn of recent years – or the move toward digital media. Released: 31 October 2012

Start With A Vision, Says Trends Entrepreneur

Publishing has not been immune from the economic downturn of recent years – or the move toward digital media.

But the CEO of one publishing company celebrating its 30th anniversary on Friday, November 2, says success is all about staying one step ahead.

David Johnson of Trends says the key for his company was to find a market niche, expand it, and diversify.

“Trends was founded on the belief that you can take a good idea and grow it exponentially by telling the right stories. You can multiply that idea a thousand times and take it anywhere in the world.

“But it did take about three years to really identify the formula that was going to work for us.”

That formula – producing high-quality publications for the home interest, residential and commercial design markets – started with a colour insert for a newspaper.

“That was back in the days when newspapers were only black and white. Our other innovative approach was to treat all the content for the insert as informational articles, rather than brand advertisements or brochure material,” says Johnson.

“The insert looked so good, it soon became apparent that, by giving it a masthead and a cover price, it could sell as a book instead of being given away as a brochure.”

And so the prototype version of Trends was produced. The first edition sold so well, it ended up in third place on New Zealand’s bestseller list that year.

The formula was expanded greatly over the next two decades, and the idea taken overseas.

Trends is now published in Australia, the United States, Canada, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, China, UAE and the Middle East, India and Indonesia, and distributed even more widely.

Simultaneously, Johnson developed the digital media side of his business, establishing New Zealand’s most visited home and commercial design website,, and expanding into PR, advertising, eBooks, web development and video production for clients.

Johnson says the changing media environment has been good for the business.

“We have always had plans 10 years out, and digitised all our content a decade ago, creating an enormous library that can be drawn on by readers to our website and through special interest electronic publications.

“We have been repurposing our content through the digital media for a very long time, which has put us way ahead of the market.

“But, like any successful entrepreneur, I could never have done this on my own. I’ve been blessed with a team of very professional, loyal people who see the vision and can run with an idea and find solutions.

“They bring a highly specialised set of skills to the business – having such talent is crucial. That is one of the key lessons I have learned over the past 30 years.”

Johnson says finding a way to deal with the stresses and strains of growing a business during difficult market conditions has been essential.

“For me, it was about dealing with it before the end of the day, so I could sleep well. Keeping fit has been a priority, and I often take 2-3 hour cycle rides. I find that after 40mins I am almost in a meditative state, and that is often the time my best ideas come to me.

“Humour is another outlet. If you can still make a joke, even in the blackest of times, it helps to break down the stress and keep everything in perspective.”

The publisher, who was the first recipient of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, says he has also singled out what it is that makes an individual succeed.

“In the course of my job, and as a judge for the Ernst & Young Awards, I have met a lot of entrepreneurs, and it is clear that every successful person has their own form of self belief. They have a clear vision and that in turn gives them huge confidence.”

Looking ahead, Johnson says the future holds enormous possibilities.

“We have built a brand that has huge credibility. That will be everything in the future when we will leverage that credibility in more countries.

“We won’t be just marketing product for clients, but also controlling the transaction and product delivery resulting from those leads. We are already working towards this.

“Even after 30 years, it is not looking back that inspires me. It’s what’s going to happen in the next one, two and five years that excites me most.”


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