Dave Flynn has had less than traditional path to find himself in the place of a small business owner and leader. Starting his career in marketing in a law firm, he is now the owner of Hunter Valley Glass and Windscreens.
The business strives to encourage creativity and innovation, often working in collaboration with clients to achieve solutions.
Dave believes good leaders know when to lead from the front and when there is more value in leading from behind.
- What career path led you to where you are now?
I started at a law firm with a traineeship. When I began there were 35 staff, and it then went through a rapid growth rate of up to 100+ employees, so I got the opportunity to grow as the business grew. I also got to see some great leadership skills across all the people involved. I was involved with setting up the systems that come with growth. A lot of hurdles and challenges came with it, but also the fun and excitement.
Then the chance came that we could buy our own business, that we could do something we could take forward ourselves, so we purchased Hunter Valley Glass & Windscreens.
We’ve had the chance to learn it from the bottom-up. I went and did my trade and I am now a qualified glazier. The marrying of the admin and management skills into the trade, has meant we are surrounded by some exceptional tradespeople who do a fantastic job. We have a great culture that we can take forward.
- What do you believe makes business unique in the Hunter?
We’re very lucky to be in the Hunter, there’s a lot of diversity in what we do, from mining up in the Valley, the vineyards, through to the Port, through to being now more of a recognised holiday destination.
The parameters in business are fairly similar no matter what area you’re operating within, it’s just what you do within those parameters that make it unique and you create your value.
In the Hunter we have a lot of people that are happy to work in together. They may be competitors but they’re happy to collaborate. We have the uniqueness of our relationships, it’s probably something you don’t experiences in the capital cities as much as you do in the Hunter, in essence we’re a big country town in the way that we operate and most of it is on trust – I think that trust elevates us.
- How do you think Hunter business can work to lead?
We need to focus on the strengths in the Hunter, our ability to work together, our ability to support. We should also look at the core things that the Hunter is really good at and use those to leverage. In we leverage off the things that we’re strong at, create innovation around that, let people think outside the square and then give them opportunities to get investment in.
We also need to lead further outside our region, we need to be recognised as leaders in the things that we do. That means we probably need to cut through some of the noise from capital cities and push forward the skill sets that we’ve got.
- What makes a good leader?
You wouldn’t be able to narrow it down to only a few things ‚Äì honesty, integrity, being able to motivate people, set vision, being able to put energy into the things you need to do.
Good leaders are able to be honest within themselves in how they put forward their leadership style and have confidence in their style. They don’t try to be what they’re not, people can see straight through that.
Some of the best leaders are willing to lead from in front and behind. In saying that they are able to come back into their team and empower their team through a process and encourage them to go out the front.
- What local businessperson do you find inspiring?
There are many businesspeople in the Hunter I find inspiring, people who lead large organisations through to people who are business owners – some of the attributes they have are spread across the entire spectrum.
I probably get the most excited about small-to-medium business owners – they have to wear an accounting hat one moment, a HR hat, a finance hat, a sales hat – and they have to be able to get their energy back up to continue forward. They get knocked down a lot and they have to get up again. They’re faced with all different questions coming from different angles and find solutions. Finding those solutions when you don’t have specific training in an area, but having to deal with it and multiskill ‚Äì now that’s inspiring.
I’m involved in a number of different boards, steering committees and volunteer organisations in the community and I find some of the most inspiring people are people who are well skilled, high level managers and business owners who give up their time to give back and use the skills that they’re learnt through their careers to benefit the community. These people who choose to give back to the community that has given to them is inspiring – it’s better than being insular.