FEATURED: Smallaire looks back on “crazy ride” to success

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Celebrating 40 years in business, Horsham farm equipment dealer and manufacturer Smallaire is keen to tell the world its achievements are thanks to the team and support from farmers.

FEATURED: Smallaire looks back on “crazy ride” to success
Smalaire Company Secretary and Director Lolita Keyte.

As a young kid, Smallaire Director Lolita Keyte was taught never to say "I can’t".

Her dad, Gary Small who was known as a gadget man always tinkered with things and strived to make the impossible happen.

"As soon as someone said something couldn’t be done, Dad would reply: ‘Can’t means won’t try’," Keyte recalls. "So if I said, ‘I can’t’, Dad would tell me, ‘You’re not trying’.

"This became our motto with everything, so I quickly learned not to say ‘I can’t’ and tried to reword instead to ‘I find that hard’ or ‘it’s challenging’," she laughs.

"From then on we all had that in the back of our minds."

Gary Small and his wife, Carol, founded the Smallaire business in 1974 in the Victorian Wimmera town of Rainbow.

When Keyte was 14 years old her parents made the move to Horsham aiming to grow the family business.

Having started with airconditioners in Rainbow, It was here farmers started coming to Gary requesting he build various air-seeding components and blowers.

Meanwhile, Keyte finished school in Horsham and went into the workforce at age 16.

"I had a few jobs, I became a hairdresser, I also studied photography, finished that part of my life and went into personal training," she relates.

Keyte says farming was and still is all around her.

"My parents also farmed deer so the locals always enjoyed visiting us," she says.

Even so, when she started working in the family business, it was a massive change of career — into a very male-dominated industry to boot.

Starting as a receptionist, Keyte moved into office administration, then air-seeding and air-conditioning product sales and finally progressed to her current roles of Company Secretary and Director.

"I came into this business as the next generation," Keyte says proudly.

"I have been working within the company for 17 years and learnt more about farming during that time by talking to farmers and listening to them tell me their stories.

"I don’t design the farm equipment, I drive the company and have very talented staff to help and assist farmers," she adds.

"We have long-term employees and every single person is valuable and encouraged to give input, which is important as they become more interested, responsible and take ownership of the company."

Read the full details of Lolita’s secrets for building a thriving business though drought, floods fires and recession in the May issue of NewFarmMachinery out May 19. Subscribe to the magazine to never miss an issue.

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