The story of homegrown Canberra business Monaro Screens involves long days, late nights, scrappiness, elbow grease and a hell of a long time before turning a profit.
But it is a success story.
Ben Byatt was but a twinkle in Dave and Deirdre’s eyes when his parents ditched the public service to start their own business.
He summarises his earliest memories of his folks with two unsurprising words: hard work.
“Without implying we were hard done by, as kids if we were sick, we often had to go to their work with them,” he recalls.
“They simply couldn’t take a day off back then.”
Much as he admired his mum and dad’s dedication to the family business, Ben had no intention of joining it himself.
“Mum and Dad were big supporters of us doing our own thing,” he said.
“They were of a mind that if we landed in the family business, great, but they believed we should follow our passions.”
Returning from a post-graduation stint overseas without yet having found his path, Ben took a sales position at Monaro Screens. This supposed placeholder career led to his eventual appointment as COO of the business.
He says he was surprised to discover how gratifying it was to help run a business that went from strength to strength.
“It’s a lot of responsibility and it obviously has its days, but it’s extremely rewarding as well,” he says.
Ben attributes the business’ success to a workplace culture built on his parents’ core values, which have stuck through year-on-year growth.
“Mum and Dad were country folk who grew up with very little. They knew the value of hard work, were grateful for opportunities and always treated people how they wanted to be treated,” he says.
“They started the business because they saw a gap in Canberra’s market – people weren’t getting served how they wanted to be.”
Ben says this focus on customer service, while painfully simple, remained Monaro Screens’ main drawcard.
“Dee and Dave always say ‘we show up when we say we’re going to show up, we do what we say we’re going to do’,” he says.
“It always surprises me how shocked our customers are when they see us rock up on time and clean up after ourselves. We laugh because it’s such a basic function of the job – but respect and reliability never go out of fashion.”
The same goes for staff, Ben says.
“We have a team of 30 awesome people now, and we’re a tight-knit team,” he says.
“Work is work but as a manager and business owner, when you see staff genuinely wanting to come to work, that’s very gratifying. They often say it’s the best job they’ve had. We don’t often toot our own horn but that’s a real point of pride for us.
“At the end of the day most of us spend more of our waking hours with the people we work with than anyone else in our lives, and a solid staff base is as important to a business’ success as a solid customer base. So creating a positive workplace culture is critical.”
Aside from customers seeking out the Monaro Screens brand of customer service, the business seems to have cornered a niche market – tricky jobs.
“Sometimes it burns us, but we don’t like to say no to customers,” Ben laughs.
“We’re known for going above and beyond to realise a customer’s vision. We take on unique jobs that many people can’t do. We have the expertise needed to nut out most problems and the skills to make it happen.”
Ben reckons Monaro Screens has carved out a key position in the Canberra market, and as COO he intends to ensure his parents’ philosophies are ever-present in how he steers the business into the future.
“We might dive into the commercial market more,” he says.
“But for the most part, we’ll stay the course. We have a good thing going here.”
Contact Monaro Screens to enquire about their comprehensive range of products.