Survival of any small business for 25 years is well worth celebrating.
But especially so when that business commenced as an independent livestock agency taking on the might of multiple large and fully entrenched agencies during tough times in the rural industry.
Yet obstacles did not daunt four motivated and visionary agents back in 1994, when they joined forces to offer livestock agency services to producers in the south east of South Australia.
Peter Pinkerton and Robin Steen (Pinkerton & Steen) and Glen Hamlyn and Michael Palm (Hamlyn & Palm) were already operating independently in that tough climate at that time.
Yet they saw the benefit in amalgamating their complementary skills and values to form Pinkerton, Palm, Hamlyn and Steen (PPHS) as joint directors.
Despite early declarations from some established quarters of, "You won't survive", they have not only survived, but also grown exponentially to become the thriving company it is today.
They have been the leading livestock agency at Naracoorte for both sheep and cattle for well over a decade.
PPHS now has 15 full-time and active livestock agents and nine real estate and office staff employed directly under its banner, plus the associated agencies it has helped set up and back financially.
This achievement was recognized in grand style last March 13 at the Adelaide Convention Centre when around 800 guests joined the original directors and staff to celebrate this very significant milestone in the company's history.
The four original directors addressed the crowd; Peter Pinkerton speaking on the company's foundation, Glen Hamlyn on the first decade or so, Robin Steen on the company's expansion, and Michael Palm on the people, both within and associated with PPHS over those 25 years.
The success of the business could be condensed down to the simple phrase of, "Building successful relationships", be that with family, staff, associated businesses, or most importantly, the livestock producers who have trusted and engaged PPHS to conduct livestock business on their behalf.
MC for the evening was Richard Harvie, who joined PPHS at its foundation.
He summarized the PPHS ethos and success as: "Some agencies have clients, but at PPHS we have friends we do business with."
While the company has operated on friendship and the principle of keeping business simple, it takes more than ethos and statements to deliver the success this company has seen.
Action in living out that ethos, combined with determination, energy and ability are the key ingredients that have ensured the ambitions of the four original directors were achieved.
Those qualities were plentiful in those original directors and from there they have hand picked the right people to join them in their on-going growth.
PPHS has now further expanded from livestock into rural and residential real estate in Naracoorte and Penola.
Besides celebrating the company's Silver Anniversary, the evening also saw the announcement of refreshing, including new branding which will be in place before the end of this financial year.
"It has grown much much more than we could ever have imagined when we started," Robin Steen said in his address.
Through the last 25 years, PPHS has not only grown to its present size and structure, but has also backed the setting up of like-minded and successful associated agencies.
Initially with Chay & Merrett up to 2015 (now as John Chay & Co and Merrett Livestock), plus Spence Dix & Co that celebrated their first decade of service last autumn.
In his address on the company's expansion, Robin Steen summarized the recruitment of the "right people" as the company grew.
All staff were sincerely thanked by all four directors, but special acknowledgement was reserved for MC Richard Harvie and Jason Mahney who joined at the foundation.
As well as the late Barry Bates who joined very early on and Sue Smith who has worked the administration side of the business in the main office for 20 years.
Administrative staff are extremely important, a point Michael Palm also acknowledged in his address when referring to the office staff, "If you want pressure there it is; they do it so well," Robin Steen said.
"Without them keeping it all together and tying up the loose ends, the outside staff would simply be no good.
"A real estate office in Penola has allowed the company to expand those services more efficiently, while Mallee livestock producers are now getting the service they deserve."
"Sometimes cherries just fall off trees," he added when referring to the staff who had joined PPHS over the following years.
"These guys live and breathe this industry; they have true passion and that's why they are successful."
Michael Palm extended thanks to the many associated businesses that have supplied and serviced the company, and particularly the National Australia Bank and the South East Motor Company.
Plus the all-important family members who have given unwavering support behind the scenes, often acting as single parents because of absent fathers; such is the nature of the livestock agency business.
However, the greatest praise and thanks was extended to the many producers among the guests in the room.
Summarized by Richard Harvie at the conclusion of the formal proceedings when he said, "You people are the reason we're here."
"Credit goes to you all, great livestock producers who produce wonderful livestock.
"Most of you have ridden out the lows in the industry, and there have been plenty to remember, to enjoy the highs we are seeing today."
Richard Harvie also mentioned the generosity of some of the producer guests in the room who collectively were "finishing" free of charge 111 young cattle sourced by PPHS as a fundraiser for RFDS.
"While the market has moved in our favour, with such generosity from you it looks very likely that we will be able to forward over $100,000 to this wonderful and vital organization," he said.
Over the 25 years, besides the growth and recruitment of top staff, three of the original directors have 'retired'.
Peter Pinkerton in 2007, although he continued as a commission agent before moving to Adelaide; Glen Hamlyn in 2015 and Michael Palm in 2018.
Currently Robin Steen is a Director and Richard Harvie serves as a Director representing the company's nine shareholders.
Despite the early declaration of:"You won't survive", Robin Steen proudly but simply stated, "I think we have proven that wrong."
Congratulations to those original directors on their vision, determination, expertise and energy and to all who have contributed to the success of this outstanding South East SA based agency over the last 25 years, with much more promised to come.
All staff are part of the PPHS family and willingly follow its ethos. As Josh Manser says whenever he auctions in the company shirt: "Proudly selling for and on behalf of PPHS, our great company."