According to the dictionary, it is a person who sets up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit.
My son was asked to do a project at school to explain “What is an entrepreneur?”
He asked if I could give him an example. I took less than a second to reply, why not your Grandfather and Grandmother?
You see my Father and Mother started Specialty Metals around 30 years ago with a handful of dollars to their name, a huge mortgage and two kids.
By definition, I am pretty sure that what they did completely covered all of those bases from the dictionary.
Some would think they were crazy to put it all on the line. But back in those days, it’s what you did.
Now Mum wasn’t really able to work full time with a kid that was just about to start high school and one in primary school so she had a part time job in a retail shop at the local shopping centre. Not a hugely fulfilling role but with interest rates at an all-time high, there wasn’t much choice in the matter.
Dad had been in real estate during one of the lowest times in the industry and that forced him into a position where he knew that he must start looking further afield. He landed a job in the steel industry and worked his way towards being a well-respected sales manager.
Many years passed and the time was right to begin his own journey and thus Specialty Metals was created.
So, Mum made the mistake of helping Dad with the books one day and ended up staying for 20+ years, being the real boss some will say (if they are smart), and keeping Dad in line while he forged great relationships with so many clients over the years. He was a great salesman. Not just that, he became friends with a lot of his clients.
His passion for the job was so impressive, I wish I was half as good as he ever was.
Still I look to him for inspiration and draw on his experience.
In those early days Dad drove a beat up old Datsun 120Y. Some of you may have learned how to drive in one or even had one as your first car. I think we had an old Morris 1100 before that but it died…some time later they managed to scrape enough together to buy an old Bedford truck that they used to ferry the kids around, deliver stock, do sales calls (best dressed truckie in Perth we used to say) and it was the workhorse for the part time handyman business that Dad needed to have to supplement his income.
Even though we now had two cars in the family, it was a long road before a profit was ever made. Inevitably, there were failures along the way and for a while, they took as many steps backwards as forwards.
But Mum and Dad had a vision for a business that would succeed through a relentless focus on customer service, and put all they had on the line to make that happen.
I continued to explain to my son that while things might look pretty good now, his Nanna and Pop worked their behinds off for years.
Both my parents worked on and in the business, holding other jobs to keep them afloat, making sure the kids were kept in line and that we had a chance at a good education, food on the table and clothes on our backs.
As I talk to my own son, I hope he can look back and understand the value of what our previous generations have gone through (whether it be work related like this story or not) and what they have sacrificed, never asking for anything from their children in return except for them to be happy and healthy.
My parents are an inspiration. Their hard work and tenacity in the face of challenges enabled them to be able to successfully support themselves, myself and my brother.
A long way down the track and being a true family business (I have now been working here for 25 years and my brother is coming up to 10 years) it also supports my wife and kids and my brother’s wife and kids.
So that’s my example of what a true entrepreneur is.
To this day we continue to follow in their footsteps with a solid foundation laid before us of strong customer service focus while treating our clients with respect and gratitude for allowing us to become a part of their go to team for service and solutions.
“One of the greatest strengths that Specialty Metals have above all others in the WA metals market is their ability to find those one-off orders or more unusual or highly specialised metals that we need in our business.” (click here to read the full story)
Helping you source the unusual is just one of the things that brings our customers back to us year after year.
Need metal? We get it!
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Author - Specialty Metals
With 30 years behind us, we should know something by now.