Women in Agriculture and Business hear success story

GUEST: Debbie Ackland with Charlton Women in Agriculture and Business members Liz Mickan, Sandra Wischki and Val Pope.
GUEST: Debbie Ackland with Charlton Women in Agriculture and Business members Liz Mickan, Sandra Wischki and Val Pope.

Debbie Ackland was an interesting guest speaker at the well attended February meeting of Charlton Women in Agriculture and Business, sharing the 'road' which led to the business venture that has grown into Eyre Health and Mobility Equipment as we know it today.

Together with husband Neil and a staff of nine, they provide products and equipment which enable clients to maintain independence at home when experiencing long or short term disabilities or rehabilitation challenges.

The business was never planned, but evolved, and now makes a valuable contribution to the community. Mrs Ackland recounted life experiences which have helped towards establishing their business.

Growing up on a farm with a sister, but no brothers, and being involved with everything proved excellent practical experience.

Work at the local Yeelanna store in 'out of school hours' was her early introduction to retail. This was followed by a permanent job in the office of Trigg and Wedd, in Cummins after leaving school.

These were pre-computer days with business transactions recorded in a ledger needing to be accurate and to balance - valuable business skills. An amusing incident she recounted was a mini disaster bank deposit delivery.

Mrs Ackland regularly took the business cash takings on foot to the bank, and being of a practical mind, re-used the same large envelope to carry the cash.

However the much recycled envelope gave way enroute one day, and notes flew across the street! The transition to computers at a later date proved a steep learning curve and a testing time.

Mr Ackland also worked at Trigg and Wedd, and after marrying the couple lived in Lock before moving to the family farm at Yeelanna. They share-farmed (developing decision making skills) and raised two boys, moving to Port Lincoln in 2005.

A visit to the Home Show in Adelaide and the purchase of a therapeutic chair for personal use proved to be a catalyst. Mrs Ackland recognised other people could benefit from what they had seen displayed.

Starting in a very small way with a display of mobility scooters out the front of their house, then moving into small rental space with a limited range of goods, the fledgling business found its feet.

Mr Ackland's full time work supported them financially with Mrs Ackland manning the shop. Perseverance and patience was rewarded, the business growing, and with it the need to work together.

As the range of products and services expanded, hiring of staff followed, and an increasing need for larger premises.

Key points for Debbie and Neil in their business have been: grow gradually, source goods carefully and choose staff wisely. The end result has been success.