Leigh Rust, Co-Founder & Director, Safetyline Jalousie

Leigh Rust: An Avid Entrepreneur and a Proud Advocate for Australian-Made Products

Gone are the days when overseas businesses were leading the manufacturing and product industry and regarded as the mark of excellence.

With a focus on innovation, attracting investments and adding new talent, small and medium-sized businesses in the manufacturing industry, which act as the backbone of our economy, are helping to transform cities into manufacturing powerhouses. Still, there is need to support these local businesses so they can continue to prosper for the long-term, create jobs and bolster local economies.

“A legacy of great building initiatives should start with the intention of sourcing locally made products to stimulate our economy before sending funds offshore,” asserts Leigh Rust, the Co-Founder and Director of Safetyline Jalousie Louvre Windows and a passionate advocate for Australian made goods. Leigh is the driving force behind Safetyline Jalousie’s mission to provide quality air solutions with ongoing energy efficiency for built environments.

In an interview with Insights Success, Leigh shares his journey from working in his father’s business to becoming a successful entrepreneur.

Below are the highlights of the interview:

Brief our audience about your entrepreneurial journey until your current position at Safetyline Jalousie. What challenges you had to face to reach where you are today?

My entrepreneurial journey started when my brother and I decided to break away from our father’s family business to launch Safetyline Jalousie in 2010. However, the decade before this provided us with the skills and experience we needed to reach that point.

Coming from a background of family business, we were able to see firsthand what was involved in running and scaling a successful company.

After 10 years working up the ranks at our father’s manufacturing business Vergola, we knew that it was time to create something of our own. Now in its 11th year, we’ve learned a lot running Safetyline Jalousie. We’re proud of everything we’ve created and are excited about the future ahead.

Enlighten us on how you have made an impact in the material and product niche through your expertise in the market?

Safetyline Jalousie has made a great impact with regards to creating high-performance, sustainable products for the built environment. Our product also improves indoor air quality with many studies showing there is a direct link between air quality and our health and learning for example.

As the only louvre window company that is Australian-made and owned, we’re proud to bring a high-quality, locally-made product to the market.

What are/were the challenges you and your team come across in your-day-to-day operations?

One struggle we can face in our operations, given that we have staff working in offices across Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Malaysia, is making sure we maintain a strong team dynamic despite the lack of face-to-face communication.

We meet regularly for video calls and have consistent internal communications to keep everyone on the same page.

What people, what books, what life factors have influenced and impacted you? Taking into consideration, the current pandemic, and its impact on global economies, how are you driving Safetyline Jalousie to sustain operations and ensuring safety of your employees at the same time?

My family has been a big source of inspiration for me in my life. Growing up, with my father and uncle both in business themselves, I was able to learn a lot about entrepreneurship and what was involved in running a successful business.

Now that I have a family of my own, including a wife and three young kids, I find that they are the people who inspire me to keep pushing and reach new heights with the business.

As someone who is committed to personal development and learning, I love to read. Particular books that have impacted me in life include The Monk who Sold His Ferrari, The Way of the Peaceful Warrior and The Daily Stoic.

Off the back of the pandemic, we’ve witnessed an uptick in demand for local manufacturing and in response to the growing demand for our products, earlier this year we purchased and moved into a 2,000 sqm facility to accommodate our growth. Additionally, we have developed new products and are putting plans in place to export to additional markets overseas.

The pandemic also highlighted the importance of regularly checking in on members of your team who work remotely. Maintaining that personal contact ensures you can continue to operate smoothly and efficiently.

Describe in detail the values and the work culture that drives your organization.

Teamwork, collaboration and open communication are at the heart of our operations. Our team is like a family to us and we have some staff that have been with us for 10+ years which speaks to the great culture we’ve created at Safetyline Jalousie.

I like to encourage my team to think for themselves and make their own decisions as I think this is beneficial to their development, both professionally speaking and within the company.

We certainly have a very open-door management structure and my team knows they can come to me at any time with any questions they have.

My advice to budding young entrepreneurs is to never underestimate the value of hard work. Find what your niche is, and make connections. Learn from others in the industry and always be persistent and resilient.

Where do you envision yourself to be in the long run and what are your future goals for Safetyline Jalousie?

My goal for Safetyline Jalousie is to continue to scale the company, launch new products, and expand into additional markets overseas. I’m proud to have built the company to the point where I am confident in my team, that I know the company will continue to run smoothly if I step away to be with my family – which is very important to me and something I’d love the chance to do more of in the future.