Disaster strikes for ex-adland start-up

The warehouse of Ironclad Pan Co, a star-up founded by prominent advertising staff including ex-Howatson+Company chief creative officer, Levi Slavin has been destroyed in the Auckland floods.

New Zealand’s largest city has been hit with record floods over the past week, and the kitchenware start-up has been one of many businesses caught as collateral in the damage.

“I’ve never seen anything like it, it was insane,” said co-founder Levi Slavin. “It’s such a tricky time for it to happen too, not that you’d ever want it to happen.”

“Just on Friday, the night it happened, we had gotten everything all set up and we were just sort of celebrating how we are rolling now, and then it was over six feet of water, basically. Everything was lost.”

At the beginning of this year Slavin announced he was quitting advertising to focus on the startup, alongside his wife Kate and Joe Carter, both founding partners agency alumni themselves.

Slavin joined the agency as its creative head, moving from Colenso BBDO in Auckland, before deciding to move back just a year later to focus on the kitchenware company.

Slavin said that due to the damage from the floodwater, “what we’re essentially having to do, because we’ve got all sorts of stuff like all kinds of material and products like cast iron products and all of that stuff, it has to go back and be dismantled and rebuilt, or destroyed, which is pretty devastating.”

Though he added the response from the industry and community has been “amazing”.

“In the space of 48 hours, a friend offered us a place to move to, and people are pre-ordering to help us recover, which is just extraordinary. It’s pretty heartwarming.

“I think beneath it all, there’s a genuine desire for the industry to succeed. That’s the bit that’s been quite overwhelming. The bit that’s really tricky though is it’s so personal when it’s your own business. It was pretty teary when we were going through it at first, like it was three weeks in since I declared that this is what I was gonna do and now we’re sitting back in our kitchen working with no products.

“It’s sort of back to square one, which is a bit sad.”

Iron pans destroyed by floodwater

Though in a stroke of luck, Slavin said without knowing, when leaving the office on Friday afternoon, he picked up a bag of hard drives, which had “everything we ever made” on them.

“Looking back now, I’m just like amazed, because that would’ve been heartbreaking. That had everything on it.”

“Use the cloud, that’s my recommendation.”

For Ironclad to move forward now, Slavin said that information and guidance will be as valuable as support, for those that can offer it.


The foundry was also untouched by the floods, so the company can go back to manufacturing cookware, he said, but the outlay of cost “is the really tricky bit to manage”.

“As a small business, you’re always just on the edge of being able to afford it as you grow. So the outlay of buying tons of iron is pretty expensive for us to then hold it.”


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