As you may have heard, Redman Training and Development have recently partnered with KBDi with a view to delivering some valuable training and development opportunities for Members. As the co-director of this company (with my lovely wife, Debra), I’m delighted to share this article – the first of a series to be delivered to you – as an introduction.

Many of you will know me from my previous role as Business Development Manager for Blum Australia (I retired from Blum in August this year). For those of you who I’ve not yet met, here’s a short story about my journey within our fantastic industry, and an insight to some of the lessons I’ve learnt along the way.

While I’m now settled in the far northern coast of NSW, I was Sydney born and bred. My first experience in sales was on the sales counter of a large hardware company called Leopold Barnet in Gardeners Road, Mascot, where I quickly learnt that engaging in conversation and asking the customers questions, defining their needs resulted in increased sales values and ‘happy customers’ who would specifically ask for me to attend to their needs.

I learnt that building good relationships built on trust reduced the emphasis on price.

In 1973 I was employed as a sales representative by Richard Small, the Australian distributor for Blum and a range of other hardware brands including office furniture componentry.

In this role, I learnt that developing good relationships presented opportunities to be part of my customers’ businesses, therefore, being sought after to contribute ideas resulting in sales growth for both parties being a WIN-WIN outcome.

My enquiring nature and willingness to support helped me to develop long-lasting business relationships and friendships.

I learnt that honesty is always the best policy, never over promise and if you don’t know the answer, use the opportunity to get the right answer and learn something.

In 1978 I moved to Melbourne to open an office supporting Blum distributors and representing our products to office furniture manufacturers. I lived in Melbourne for the next 10 years. In 1998 I moved to Queensland along with my wife and 4 children.

Despite the cultural differences of Sydney, Melbourne & Brisbane, I realised that if I maintained an open mind and willingness to adapt, I could be accepted in each market.

Queensland, at that time, was in a growth phase, particularly on the Gold Coast where I lived. However, this was a time when the kitchen industry couldn’t have been under more threat. Businesses, responding to lower price demands from builders, were reducing margins, losing profit, and were at risk of closing. Yes, business was booming, however, the quality of offer and value for manufacturers was diminishing.

I recall speaking at an industry event in the early ’90s where I appealed to the kitchen industry to start looking at promoting itself as a professional creative industry. An industry very much in touch with customer needs and willing to provide valuable service and product inclusions that would inspire a need to buy a kitchen.

During my career, I have been challenged by many demands on me professionally and personally. My position required a great deal of travel and being away from home and family. Meeting many different, complex and sometimes challenging personalities also required an ability to adapt, understand and where required, modify my own behaviour. I certainly always retained my values.

From these experiences I would seek to learn how to best adapt to these circumstances, I learnt that I always had a choice. These choices, on how I would respond, how I would behave and choices on deciding if my values were being compromised required me to develop as a person.

I have had a long and close relationship with the KBDi since its conception in 2007, where I enjoyed working with Alex Milne and other industry identities around the country, all determined to create an institute committed to providing valuable services to our design and manufacturing community here in Australia.

I’m looking forward to continuing my association with KBDi in this new role, and sharing with Australia’s Finest Designers and Manufacturers more of the many lessons I’ve learnt, and strategies I’ve developed.

(Keen to learn more about Redman Training & Development? Check them out here.)