Earlier this year we welcomed Matthew Cuffe to Stoke in the role of Queenstown Store Manager. Now that he’s settled into life in the Deep South, we thought it was time we caught up with Matt to get to know him, his background and after making the move from across the ditch, what he’s enjoying most about living in New Zealand.
Hi Matt! Can you tell us a bit about your background?
I grew up on a farm in rural New South Wales where I worked in the building industry for 5 years. From there I moved to Sydney where I worked my way up to a managing role at a fireplace retailer in Brookvale.
Here we sold most types and brands of fireplaces on offer in Australia which led me to become an expert in the array of flue sizes, types, clearances – basically everything that goes into quoting and supplying a fireplace.
I have been selling fires and working directly with consumers, builders, architects and designers for over 6 years now. In this time I have encountered just about every question possible when it comes to buying and installing a fireplace. It’s given me great insight into what customers want in a fireplace, how they will use it and what they actually need.
I’ve learnt so much about the customer journey too – from deciding on a fireplace in-store, right through too seeing the finished product installed in their home. My experience has enabled me to sift through all this (sometimes overwhelming) information to find a solution that meets each customer’s individual needs.
You’ve been at Stoke Queenstown for 6 months now – what led you to your current role here?
As with any great decision, I made the choice to move to NZ for a girl – now my wife. She wanted to be closer to her family, so we made the big move across the ditch. After working in the building industry in Christchurch for 6 months I received a job offer with Stoke, and who wouldn't want to live in Queenstown?
What sets Stoke apart from other fireplace retailers?
We are essentially the link between the client and the installer - we provide each of them with the correct information and parts to make sure everything runs smoothly, from choosing the fireplace right through to install. Too many issues arise when ‘box stores’ provide fireplaces and parts without correct or enough information. It's always best to see a professional!
Can you tell us about the most interesting or impressive installation you have been involved in?
There are way too many to name! A lot of properties in Sydney have existing chimneys so naturally, my speciality became retrofitting fireplaces into beautiful character or traditional homes. Working with Escea definitely makes my job easier though – they offer the most user and installer-friendly fireplace range on the market.
What interesting changes or trends have you noticed in the industry recently?
A lot of clients are changing focus towards improving the thermal efficiency of their home and not wasting energy. Customers are getting smarter and doing their research before they go shopping too. The Escea and MODE gas fires we sell at Stoke are 5-star efficiency products which customers are loving right now.
What do you most enjoy about your job?
The satisfaction of making customers happy and knowing their family will be warm over the Queenstown winter.
And lastly, what’s the best thing about living in Queenstown?
The beautiful golf courses and fishing spots right on your doorstep! Oh and the scenery’s pretty good too.