The Value of Mentors in Times of Crisis

Safetyline Jalousie’s Director Leigh Rust talks us through why mentors are of such value in times of crisis like the current coronavirus pandemic that we’re facing. 

The word unprecedented is used far too liberally these days but, right now, the economy is facing unprecedented times.

There is no guidebook to navigate the current global crisis that is shapeshifting daily with no clear end in sight.

Quite apart from the public health emergency, many businesses are in a coronavirus freefall that none of us could have foreseen, let alone prepared for.

While it’s impossible for anyone to have all the answers, now is the time to seek the wise counsel of a mentor, someone who’s ridden the peaks and troughs of economic cycles and can offer some sage advice.

It’s understandable that after a 27 year run of continuous economic growth some of us may have been complacent in thinking it was the new normal, that grey heads talking about the old days didn’t have a lot to offer.

As it turns out, there is whole field of study dedicated to the benefits of business mentoring.

The academics widely agree mentors provide, among other things, valuable perspective, a trusted sounding board, encouragement and the development of key skills.

As the founding director of a successful company that’s just passed the 10 year mark, I understand how overwhelming the current outlook is for newer players.

I have been fortunate to reach out to my father and uncle who’ve been in business all their working lives and although they’ve never experienced anything quite like a global pandemic, they have seen off other economic challenges.

Invariably, their advice has been not to panic, to lead from the front and to hang in there.

Governments and banks are rewriting the rules as we speak. There will be concessions made, support packages available and stimulus measures to prod both production and demand when the time is right.

SafetyLine Jalousie job in the short term is, firstly, to look after our staff and their families and do what we can to keep the wheels turning within the confines of government regulations and public safety.

For those who weathered the Global Financial Crisis of 2007-8, it seems that will be a mere blip compared to economic fallout of Covid-19, already being equated with the Great Depression of the 1930s.

According to the experts, the difference this time is that governments will be more nimble in delivering stimulus packages and concessions.

Certainly, we have already seen some evidence of that, both on a federal and state level, although their success is yet to be measured.

Still, it’s interesting to see what lessons can be learned from the Great Depression and I’m encouraged to see some businesses already taking their opportunities.

Among the market sectors to stick it out during the Depression in the US was the brewing industry, which was already crippled by the double whammy of alcohol Prohibition.

While many brewers simply shut their doors, those who stayed used their plants to brew beer replacements, root beers and other adult soft drinks, believing that one day the alcohol ban would be lifted.

It kept them afloat until the tide invariably turned and, today, eight of the ten largest US brewers are pre-Prohibition companies who chose to hang in there.

Already many clever Australian distillers have been quick to switch production from boutique spirits to much-needed hand sanitiser, jumping into a high demand market and providing a community benefit at the same time.

Such agility is key to surviving the uncharted waters we find ourselves in.

Another company to do well during the Depression was soap manufacturer Proctor & Gamble who recognised that no matter how destitute people were, they would still need soap.

Rather than cutting their advertising and marketing budgets as most companies do during tough times, they ramped up their public profile by sponsoring then making daily radio serials which, to this day, are still called soap operas.

The lesson there is to be bold when others around you are retreating. It pays to be seen and heard.

Here’s another one for you. Martin Guitars was hardly producing an essential product at the time the Great Depression hit but it held firm in refusing high-volume discounts for big retailers, preferring to stick with smaller dealers.

It also came up with a quality, price-friendly guitar for the times that recorded solid sales throughout the Depression, a time when people valued the comfort music could bring.

In the current climate, agility will be key. Don’t be shy in putting yourself out there even if it all seems futile in the short-term.

Now is the time to find yourself a mentor to help you navigate your path.

Most importantly, choose a person whose values align with your own, whose record you respect and humbly ask them whether they would be interested in offering you advice.

Most often, they will be flattered. Academics have overwhelmingly found mentoring relationships are a two-way street, benefiting both parties and can lead to long-lasting friendships.

In times like these, isolation shouldn’t mean being alone.

 

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Ali Asmar

Business Manager - VIC & SA

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As the most recent addition to the Safetyline Jalousie family, Ali is still coming to terms with the fact that a typical telephone conversation will often be answered with “You’re calling from Safety what”? followed by having to sound out and spell the name “ja-lou-sie” (it happens to us all). Born in Lebanon, Ali has moved around a lot over the years, living in Cyprus, Sydney for most of his Schooling, as well as China and Hong Kong. He currently resides in Melbourne where he spends a lot of time in his garden or doing some sort of work around the house. (Not too dissimilar to many other Melburnians following the onset of Covid). With a very obvious cultured background, Ali is warm and talkative and he’ll get you talking too.

Romile John

National Business Manager

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One of the Safetyine Jalousie originals, Rom (often mistaken for John) holds a great passion for the product. He says its “its innovative, a market leader and ever-evolving, very much like the company itself”. When you meet Rom, it is apparent that he is well-educated and well-travelled. Coming from a family of medical professionals, they moved around extensively and often. Last count was 125 countries. So nearly all of them! It’s really no surprise that Rom has mastered packing a weeks-worth of clothes and necessities into a carry-on bag. And when we say clothes we actually mean meticulously prepared outfits and accessories. When Rom enters a room, you’re sure to know it!

Adam Racomelara

National Manager – Partnerships & Strategy

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Adam is our strategist and big ideas generator whose somewhat reserved nature could have some mistake him as a bit of an introvert. But that’s only until this quiet thinker is given a whiteboard and a marker – and then there’s no stopping the dialogue! 7 Years in at Safetyline Jalousie, Adam is continually expanding on his knowledge of the construction industry and is incredibly driven in his pursuit to help create better buildings via the use of better products. When Adam’s not on his quest to improve Australia’s built environment he’s spending most weekends escorting one of his 4 young kids to birthday parties, sometimes multiple parties. He has some stealth survival tips for other parents currently in the same predicament.

Michael Cocks

Factory Manager

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Michael has become recognised at Safetyline Jalousie for his continually changing hairstyles (facial hair included). Buzz cut, undercut, dreadlocks, even a mullet. We’ve see it all. His current man bun could even be gone before we finish this sentence. Always up for a laugh, friends and colleagues love a chat with Michael, and his easy-going and approachable nature has earned him the respect of all staff. In fact, he even has a cohort of followers on the factory floor sporting his same hairstyles. Outside of work Michael has recently turned his attention to mountain bike riding. His very first ride ended with a pretty serious accident resulting in a deep puncture wound to his leg– it’s been a sore topic for his leg and his ego.

Jonathan Gueudinot

National Logistics & Production Manager

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Our South American Native, Jonathan is more simply and better known as “Chilli” (no need to try and guess his country of origin). After 16 years of military service, Chilli joined the Safetyline Jalousie team for what he describes as “a change of pace”. Although his average work day might look very different these days, there’s no doubt that Chilli’s previous experience has contributed in shaping a culture of commitment, community and comradery within the production team – the very important engine room of our company. Driven by a sense of accomplishment, in addition to running Safetyline Jalousie’s production line with military precision, Chilli has recently been studying hard to complete his Master’s Degree in Business and Logistics.

Mandy Saliba

Marketing Manager

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Mandy has been with Safetyline jalousie since day one so would technically be considered a geriatric in “Jalousie years”. Whilst her role has changed and evolved over her time with the business, one thing that hasn’t is the happy and fun, team culture that she says “continues to make each day at work a joy”. As a mum of two little ones, Mandy thrives on new challenges and a little bit of chaos. Although, as a self-proclaimed clean freak, she ensures that all forms of chaos are kept in a very neat and tidy manner. We’ve also observed that Mandy appears to have an inherent fear of colour and will almost only ever be seen in black or white (or sometimes grey if she is being really out there).

Lisa Spinks

Office Administration Manager

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As a busy mother of 4, Lisa is highly skilled in organising, delegating, and troubleshooting – the proficiencies which she also demonstrates in her daily management of the Safetyline Jalousie office. Lisa tells us that she lives by the saying “What doesn’t break you makes you stronger”. (No doubt she’s had to use this little piece or personal encouragement from time to time to deal with our infinite requests)! Always on the go, Lisa has a very active lifestyle and starts every day with a walk to the beach with her husband and two dogs. Of an evening she still has the energy to spare for star jumps and squats in her makeshift gym/ (our office) before heading home to her other full-time job as “mum”.

 

 

 

Nathan Rust

Founder & National Operations Director

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The younger brother of the co-founding sibling duo, “Nath” is the go-to for just about every technical, install, and manufacturing enquiry that comes via the business. Very early on, Nath’s product knowledge and problem-solving ability saw him organically take on the role of Operations, overseeing the design and management of Safetyline Jalousie’s behind-the-scenes work. When he’s off duty (and not answering a million questions), Nath enjoys spending time with his wife and 3 young kids. You’ll find him cheering on his son at weekend sports, enjoying the water somewhere along the Northern beaches and this lover of food is generally always planning his next big meal. Preferably a Lebanese banquet if anyone can suggest a restaurant he doesn’t frequent already.

Leigh Rust

Founder & Director

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Leigh aka “Wolfpack” is one-half of the driving force behind Safetyline Jalousie and comes with two decades of experience within the Australian manufacturing and construction industry. The multi-award-winning entrepreneur and father of three youngsters is a passionate advocate for supporting Australian-made goods and improving the built environment for future generations to come. Always up for a challenge, Leigh never sits still and is constantly pushing himself to test his physical and mental endurance. He’s given just about everything a go. From amateur MMA fights, triathlons, or personal development endeavours, Leigh stands by the motto, ‘I never lose, either I win or I learn’.

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Safetyline Jalousie Design Manual Version 3

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Safetyline Jalousie Design Manual Version 3