At only 30 years of age, Dean Waters has been building his business, Lockman Doors and Glass, for just on eight years. The business has grown from strength to strength since he bought it, with staff more than doubling and the service area expanding throughout the New England North West, across to the coast, and as far as Sydney.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born and raised in Armidale. For a six-month period I moved to Perth, but I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, and I quickly realised that Armidale is where my heart is. I’m glad I went, because I don’t have any “what ifs” now.
When I came back home, I ended up working for Lockman Doors and Glass. I’m very much into my sport. In winter I play for the City Hockey Club, and in summer I play cricket for Easts Cricket Club. Lockman’s also sponsors both clubs. I’m about to get married in three months’ time to a wonderful woman.
What does Lockman Doors and Glass do?
It’s pretty clear we do doors and glass, but we pride ourselves on the quality of our products and our work and, increasingly, on our creativity in bringing to life the vision of the home owner, builder or architect. When it comes to security screening, we only use Crimsafe. It’s a high-quality Australian product that provides great security, without sacrificing the kerb appeal of our clients’ homes.
What led you to start your own business?
I bought the business eight years ago. I did my apprenticeship with Lockman Doors and Glass, and my boss was retiring. He gave me the opportunity to buy the business off him, which I am extremely grateful for. At the time it was a hard decision, as I was only 22 years old, but in the end, it was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down. I definitely have no regrets.
What has changed in the eight years since you started your business?
We have almost tripled our staff in the eight years since I started in the business. We started with four employees, and now we have eleven employees.
We still sell and service the quality products that Lockman’s have always produced; however, we have expanded the brands we offer and pushed out the boundaries of our service area. We don’t just service Armidale, but do speciality jobs throughout the New England, over to the coast, and as far as Sydney. We are increasingly working with architects and builders to bring to life their designs. Consumers’ expectations have changed: they are more aware of design from watching lifestyle shows like The Block.
What are some of the challenges you have faced as a business owner?
The transition from working side-by-side with my friends and colleagues to becoming “the boss” was a big adjustment. And there have been growing pains along the way, as we have employed more people, taken on higher workloads. As a tradesperson, learning the paperwork and bookkeeping side of things was a significant challenge.
What makes Lockman Doors and Glass different from other suppliers in your industry?
In the building game, you often get what you ask for and not what you really need. We do more than just a free measure and quote; we assess our clients’ requirements and work with them to ensure that their final installation not only meets, but exceeds their expectations.
Builders like to work with us because of our quality work and our ability to deliver “outside the box thinking” if they run into trouble on site. And architects like to work for us because we will work with them to bring their creative vision to life.
As tradies, we take genuine pride in our work, and our promise to our clients is to deliver hassle-free, high-quality, professional work each and every time.
What have you found is the best part of being a business owner?
I love the challenge of the every day. Each day presents something new – we are not doing the same old thing every day. There are always new obstacles to overcome, problems to solve. There is an element of creativity that I really enjoy. When you are running your own business, there can be a lot of uncertainty and you need to be flexible, but you also get to learn leadership skills and the rewards of achieving your goals.
What advice would you give a business owner who was just starting out?
Don’t be scared; jump into it. Embrace the challenges – the rewards outweigh the difficulties.
What inspires you?
I’m inspired by my family, and my daughter pushes me to get up and move forward to face the challenges ahead. Being a parent changes everything, and I’m motivated by a desire to create a great life for her.
What goals or challenges lie ahead?
I would like to continue to grow and expand the business, and I would really like to increase the volume of the product we have coming out of the factory.