What started as a small family business in 2009, has now grown into a renowned and respected Automation and Energy Management company that services areas from Cairns to Mackay, the Sunshine Coast, Brisbane and the Gold Coast. Since this time, owners of Electrotek QLD, Dave and Sonya Corkery, have won multiple awards for their projects. They are registered NDIS Providers and work to ensure the best possible assistive technology is available for NDIS clients. Here, the couple share the role their partnership has played in bringing the business from its humble beginnings to the successful business it is today.
1. What were some factors you both had to weigh up before deciding to go into business together?
Sonya: We are very different personalities and we found even working together part time challenging, so the decision to work together full time was certainly not taken lightly. However, in 2016, when Dave decided to be fully self-employed and work on the company full time, he wanted someone he could fully trust handling the money and invoicing.
Dave: Sonya had been working in the office for years from the inception of the business but in 2016 was still working full time in financial planning as well being a mum to our three young boys. When the prospect of her starting full time arose, the discussion was more around if the business could support a wage for Sonya that would be able to support her own financial position at home.
Sonya: We also knew that the business would allow us as a family to have more flexibility to spend time with our children. But we also recognised that it would be a significant income drop. In light of this, a figure was decided upon that worked for both us and the business, and the discussion was agreed about my role and what it would encompass.
2. You have both been involved in some very large and progressive projects, such as the refurbishment of St Patrick’s College, and the construction of Flinders Lane. How do you both juggle the enormity of these projects?
Sonya: We are able to operate effectively on these projects because we are very clear what our job role is and what is required of us, and what needs to be done systematically to ensure the quality is delivered to the clients on time and within our budget.
Dave: Yes, the key to this is that we do not work in each other’s section, basically we stay in our pool. We support each other when we each ask for help but other than that we follow our own systems and procedures for each role within the business.
Sonya: We have spent significant time learning about how to work with different personalities and how to develop relationships. This has included our clients, our team and even ourselves. It took us many years to realise that team culture had to be number one for our business to be successful. This great team culture has now enabled us to confidently take on big projects such as Flinders Lane and St Patrick’s College.
3. Since starting in 2009, what has been something that has surprised you both about working together?
Sonya: People often ask us how we can work together being husband and wife, but the truth is we have always had significant respect for each other and our abilities. We trust each other 100% in business and in life. Even though we are both very strong personalities we both have skills that complement the other and together what we can achieve is amazing.
Dave: The thing that has surprised me the most is that no matter what happens when we are working together with new clients, the process is seamless because we know how the other works and when to each take control of the conversation. Every day we each get to work not only with our business partner but our best friend. We are so lucky to be able to spend so much time together. Most people don’t get that benefit in their working life.
4. After a long day at work, how do you find the transition from business parents to parents?
Sonya: In the beginning, this was something that was very difficult because we were juggling so much between just the two of us. Now it is much easier because we have more upper level management and can spread the responsibilities around the roles. This was something we definitely had to discuss and agree on because it wasn’t really fair on each of us or our children.
Dave: Yes, now though the general rule is once we are both home, there is to be no talk about work unless it is urgent. Once we walk through that door it is like the work mode has been switched off in both of us.
5. What advice would you give to other husband and wife teams who are considering going into business together or collaborating in some form?
Dave: Be upfront about wages and roles in the business and ensure you see each other as equals not one as the superior. Most of all make sure that you both know what you’re passionate about and what your individual goals are so you can plan to meet them for both of you. Having goals and also having the support to help you meet those goals is crucial.
Sonya: We agree that if you’re 100% committed to make it work you can and will. But everyone needs to be open and transparent and agree on the expectations from each other before you start. Working as a husband and wife team isn’t for everyone but if you can make it work successfully it can be amazing.
This article was originally published in our February Digital Issue. >>>>