Some say he’s a long-suffering Warriors fan, and that his breath can freeze the sea. All we know is he’s called the Comeback Kid. Meet Daniel Barr…
Daniel Barr is a Business Development Executive at Driveline specialising in SME leasing and finance. From running vibrational training studios to selling Mercedes cars to joining his brother Andy at Driveline, then being lured away from Driveline only to return 8 weeks later, what a story he tells!
Daniel Barr and brother Andy
Like his brother Andy who also works at Driveline and was profiled on 13 April 2023 in Behind the Veil with Andy Barr, Daniel Barr was born in Perth to a Kiwi father and an Australian mother of Russian descent.
His family moved to Auckland when Daniel was 10 or 11 and he spent his adolescent years growing up on the Shore. “We loved summer there, down at Murray’s Bay wharf bombing off the old jetty,” says Daniel.
Rangi & rugby
Daniel went to Rangitoto College and played rugby for North Harbour. He had no desire to go to university and left school after the sixth form. His father had one rule though, that if he wanted to leave school he had to get a trade.
Auto industry #1
Daniel jumped into an apprenticeship as an automotive electrician working for Installer Services Group.
After a few years on the tools at Installer Services Group, Daniel realised he was a better salesman than he was on the tools, so he joined Vodafone as a sales rep.
His next job was with Just Water as a B2B account manager selling corporate inline systems, a job he excelled at for a number of years.
Vibrational training studios
Here’s where Daniel’s work history takes another unexpected twist. He crossed the ditch to Sydney to help set up a chain of vibrational gyms, a new concept in Australia.
Then Daniel’s mother bought one in Takapuna, so Daniel returned to New Zealand where he and his brother Andy ran the gym for their mother for a while.
Auto industry #2
In 2009 Daniel got into the auto industry proper, joining Enterprise Motor Group and later moving to Moyes Panmure as a sales assistant. He must have been half decent at his job because he progressed to Assistant Manager, then Sales Manager.
After a 6-year stint at Moyes Panmure, Daniel moved to John Andrew Mazda as assistant manager. It was in this role that he first met Ian Baard, who now works for Driveline. It’s a small world.
After four years at John Andrew Mazda, Daniel was feeling the entrepreneurial itch again.
Daniel left the security of the larger companies to help start another small business – a dealership on the North Shore called MotorHaus.
Daniel set everything up from scratch – setting up a website, building distribution channels, sourcing cars, setting up facilities with lenders, advertising… you name it, Daniel built it.
His brother Andy joined him later, so they were both selling cars and doing finance for customers. This came in very handy when they both later joined Driveline. But first…
Daniel then got headhunted by Mercedes Auckland. He was really keen to join Mercedes and experience the level of service they provide their clientele.
Mercedes has a reputation of being the benchmark in customer service, and Daniel knew that once he experienced what excellence looked like, it was a portable skill he could take wherever he went next.
“The level of service at Mercedes was exceptional. Just their their delivery and their after-sales service was a step ahead of what I’d seen before. They really do lay it on so it was good to see.
“You’re obviously paying for it when you buy a Mercedes, but I don’t see why other people shouldn’t implement that everywhere. It’s absolutely possible. All it needs is the right mindset.”
“From Mercedes, I was actually 100% dead set on getting into an FMCG account management role and getting out of the auto industry. After 13 years in the auto industry, I just wanted to try something completely different,” says Daniel.
But brother Andy and Ian Baard, Daniel’s colleague from Mazda, had other ideas for him. “Ian and Andy were like, no, you should join Driveline.”
Andy told Daniel how happy he was at Driveline, that he really, really liked Lance and Paul as bosses, how good the workplace dynamics were and the great work-life balance. So Daniel had a chat with Lance and Paul and liked what he saw, and came on board.
Asked to paint a picture of his typical clients, Daniel struggles to describe the diversity.
“A lot of tradies, a lot of startup businesses. It’s so varied. It could be a business, or a trust, or a school, I’ve got vets, doctors, lawyers. There’s just such a range. And that’s what I enjoy, it’s so varied.”
One of Daniel’s larger clients is Plumbquick. When they first came to him it was an enquiry for two cars. Thanks to Daniel’s account management approach of working to understand the business and their underlying needs at a deep level, Driveline now finances a 40-car fleet for them.
Plumbquick owned their vans outright before, but now that they lease their vehicles through Driveline they have been able to reinvest that freed-up capital back into growing the business.
“He never had an account manager before, or had anyone to really try and understand his fleet needs. So, that’s really worked for him.
“Freeing up capital was a big benefit, and he also liked the telematics of the fleet management system. He now knows what’s going on within his fleet and can keep his finger on the pulse. It wasn’t visible before and he was bleeding money here and there. So I think he’s found that really beneficial.”
West Coast farmer
The most recent vehicle Daniel has financed is a 2021 Nissan Navara for a farmer in the West Coast region of the South Island. He’s farmed there for 21 years and never thought about leasing before.
What brought about the change was a nudge from his accountant, who suggested he look into leasing as an alternative to owning it outright. By golly, the accountant was right and the farmer is as happy as Larry.
Fire Safety Net
Another recent client job is Fire Safety Net, a national fire evacuation training and planning company. They needed a car for an employee in Auckland, and they’re now driving around in a KIA Seltos, a really cool little SUV.
Genetic farming consultant
Reinforcing the diversity of Daniel’s clients is another farming guy, this time a genetic farming consultant who is now driving a very nice Ford Everest Platinum.
Daniel’s client bought an established business with a 20-year history and three vehicles that could only be described as absolutely rundown clappers.
Wardrobes Direct specialises in modular wardrobe systems, wardrobe sliding doors, and storage systems.
The new owner’s accountant suggested it might be beneficial to look at leasing vehicles instead. He approached another lease company first and was declined because they regarded him as a new startup with no history.
But what Daniel saw was an established business that was well-positioned financially and had 5 years of rock solid financials. He couldn’t see any reason NOT to work with them, and Wardrobes Direct now have two new LDV G10 cargo vans and a nice little Skoda Octavia RS.
A most intriguing deal
This recent client job is “weird” and shows Daniel’s ability to think laterally and help solve his clients’ needs. Fed delivers fresh or frozen chef-prepared meals to households around New Zealand. Think of them as an up-market My Food Bag.
The owner has another catering company that owned an underutilised Hyundai iLoad van. And Fed needed a delivery van. They looked at selling the iLoad and leasing a van for Fed, but the numbers didn’t really stack up.
Daniel structured a deal whereby Driveline bought the iLoad off the catering company and leased it to Fed, which meant the freed-up capital could be reinvested into growing the business.
“It just made more sense this way. It was just the best solution for him personally and for the company. It was just the best solution for everyone actually,” says Daniel.
The joys of working at Driveline
Daniel describes the reason he loves working at Driveline…
“The reason I love working at Driveline is because there’s a real good bond and closeness with the team. It feels more like a family than than a bunch of colleagues.
“It’s a place where the lines of communication are always open and you feel that your voice is heard. It starts from the top and it’s definitely Lance and Paul. They’re just so un-micro. The micro-management in some jobs is horrendous. It’s horrendous. But Lance and Paul are about as un-micro manager as you can get.”
Despite the joys of working at Driveline, Daniel left for another position just nine weeks ago.
“I got fed a bit of a dream. Through personal connections I got offered the North Island account management role with a big wholesale and distribution company that has 32,000 SKUs. The package they offered was huge.
“Me and my wife were looking to buy a bigger house, and we’ve got another baby on the way, and the package was too good to turn down so I actually resigned from Driveline about 9 weeks ago.”
The comeback kid returns to Driveline
Daniel realised after two weeks that he had just made a massive mistake and that it wasn’t about the money, it was about the people he worked with. He realised that Driveline was what he really enjoyed doing.
“I thought I was doing the right thing by my family, but it turns out that it just wasn’t. And the whole time, it just didn’t feel right leaving here [Driveline] anyway. But it didn’t take me long to figure it out.”
And so after eight weeks, the comeback kid was back.
Daniel spoke to Lance about feeling like he was coming back with his tail between his legs, “and he said, no, absolutely not, that’s completely not what it is, which gave me just so much confidence in the place and him.”
And what’s it like for the comeback kid being back at Driveline? In Daniel’s own words…
“Literally within half an hour of sitting back at my desk here, it didn’t even feel like I’d left. So that’s what I mean, I just feel so comfortable here and on a Sunday afternoon, I look forward to a Monday morning, you know?”
Daniel Barr & Family
Sarah and Daniel met about 10 years ago and have been married for 5 years. They have a two-year-old boy named Taylor and a baby on the way.
“Taylor is pretty active these days. He’s very inquisitive. He’s just a good little dude. He’s getting into a bit of rough and tumble these days, which is pretty cool.”
Sarah’s family have a bach at Cook’s Beach so they spend a lot of time down in the Coromandel.
Family life doesn’t give Daniel much time for other interests, but he does have some…
When asked about his hobbies and interests, Daniel says he’s into some into some “weird s***” like the Wim Hof Method. He loves his cold water immersion and breathing exercises.
“I’m always looking into different regimes to improve my health and I came across Wim Hoff and watched a bunch of videos and did a lot of research and saw the benefits of what people were doing. So then I started experimenting myself and I feel pretty good after a cold shower. And the breathing exercises are pretty cool as well.”
Continuing on with the health theme, Daniel says he does quite a bit of intermittent fasting and has cut out all refined carbs. It’s like a semi-keto diet, which, having done a full keto diet before, he has some experience with.
Daniel was very sad to give up AFL when he moved to New Zealand as a schoolboy, saying “I bloody loved AFL!”
But the biggest thing he loves now is rugby league. He’s a massive rugby league fan and describes himself as a true, long-suffering Warriors fan.
Sarah’s family have a bach at Cook’s Beach so they spend a lot of time down in the Coromandel. Whenever they can they do a few walks and day trips while down there. “It’s just beautiful down there, its a good part of the world, you know?” says Daniel.
Daniel has played golf off and on since he was at school but has only just started really getting into it, having to play with borrowed clubs until he gets his own. He enjoys challenging himself, getting some exercise while doing it, and especially the social aspect.
His brother Andy is into golf too, so the brothers play together quite a bit.
Daniel’s journey is full of interesting twists and turns. He’s landed in a good place and is very grateful to have learned that big salaries don’t always bring big joy. It’s the people that count, and he considers himself lucky to have found his niche at Driveline.
It’s a lesson to us all that it’s never too late to acknowledge a mistake and quickly rectify it. Daniel is one of the most impressive examples I’ve ever seen of this in action. No wonder his clients love him!