When Donna Davies started her job in sales for Tymlock Fencing (Independent Steel Company) 17 years ago, the learning curve included winning over the old guard of Queanbeyan’s local fencing contractors. Long used to dealing with business owner, Michael Szczerbiak, there was a period of adjustment when Donna took over as front-of-house for sales, quoting, ordering and general customer management.
“Mike’s business had already been around for a decade or so when I started,” says Donna. “And Queanbeyan had a pretty well-established bunch of fencing contractors, who were older guys, and probably a bit more traditional in their ways. They’d see me behind the counter and say: ‘Is Mike in?’ rather than deal with me. So there certainly was this adjustment period to win them over.
“But Mike trained me very well and I soon knew my stuff. I also knew how to be personable, build rapport, and talk at their level. Once they understood that I wasn’t ‘just some chick behind the counter’, they relaxed, and we could build some trust.”
Times change of course, and new generations of contractors have got into the game, with much of the old blokiness and prejudice falling away.
“It’s different now,” Donna says. “A lot of the younger blokes aren’t bothered about talking technical with a woman. If you know your stuff, you know your stuff. That’s that.”
As to seeing more women enter the industry, Donna says that could change as region goes through a major growth spurt. With a building boom in Canberra, Queanbeyan, and Bungendore you’re likely to see a few more women on the tools or running their own fencing businesses.
“Don’t forget that there a lot of women who play back-office roles,” says Donna. “They’re the partners and wives who are managing the accounts and balancing the books. They’ve always been there, and most small business couldn’t run without them.”
Recently, after 25 years in the business, Mike retired and sold Tymlock to the Independent Steel Company. Thanks to her in-depth knowledge of the business, Donna has stayed on to continue running the day-to-day operations and servicing its customer base just as she has for the last 17 years.
What hasn’t changed is the relationship with D&D Technologies. For Donna, the quality and reliability of their products is outstanding, as is the dedication to customer service.
“Everyone knows the DND brand, especially when it comes to pool fencing and safety,” says Donna. “We sell a lot of it. When I place my orders there are no issues at all. It’s always in stock and arrives a few days later, packaged beautifully and competitively priced. I cannot fault them.”
On the subject of cheaper alternatives, Donna says it all ends up costing you more in the long run.
“We're loyal to D&D. Why would you go away from a company with a top-notch product? Once it’s installed, it’s installed—there's no going back six months later having to replace it. You could go for something that may be cheaper, but you’re only going to have issues, callbacks, and complaints. Who needs that?”