KEY ROLE: Ireland Blinds managing director Ross Emms has been recognised for his contribution to the industry.
KEY ROLE: Ireland Blinds managing director Ross Emms has been recognised for his contribution to the industry. Rob Williams

Hall of Fame honour for head of Ireland Blinds

ROSS Emms is well known in the Ipswich community and highly regarded by his peers in the blind manufacturing industry.

The managing director of Ireland Blinds is instrumental in the success of the local business and has made significant contributions to the industry nationally.

Recently he was inducted into the industry's Hall of Fame.

Ireland Blinds was founded by Hilton Ireland. Many Ipswich homes established in the late 1950s to 1970s may well still have a Hills hoist or Jackson hoist.

They have adorned many homes in the region and dried thousands of items of clothes, sun drenched in our amazing climate.

The firm started in 1957 but just 14 years on, in 1971, Mr Emms joined the firm to provide management and continues in that role today.

"I was an internal auditor for Austin-Anderson Australia and was with them for nine years. I started as a project accountant and worked up to the position of internal auditor and then was in charge of accounting and administration in Melbourne. I worked in every state across Australia. The business had a motto; it is always about results not excuses. The firm was started by Samuel Austin in the USA and at that time had been going for 100 years," he said.

His colourful career had given him a solid foundation to move to the managerial role for Ireland Blinds and it came to his attention through a church contact formerly of Melbourne.

"Stan Hunt had moved from near Melbourne to Ipswich to take a lead role in the former Ipswich Assembly of God church in Pring Street, (Now Centro). Hilton Ireland attended that church and was talking about getting a manager.

"I was pointed out to Hilton.

"A lot of conversations and thinking brought me to the decision to make the move to Ipswich."

Mr Emms started as an employee but became a shareholder after a few years.

Although his former employer actively sought him for about 12 months after leaving them, he continues to this day in his leadership role with Ireland Blinds.

He is a genuine, down-to-earth man who represents what we all hope for in our business leaders - integrity, hard work and a fair go for all.

Working alongside Mr Emms is the co-director and founder's son, Phillip Ireland, and a team of staff. Collectively they represent more than 400 years of experience.

Staff members are typically viewed as long-term members of the "family" in this locally owned and operated business.

Ireland Blinds manufacture a range of products on site at the premises at Boyce St, Bundamba.

They manufacture under licence the Crimsafe product, have their own venetian and vertical blinds, roller shutters, shades, awnings and louvres.

It is the made-to-measure capacity of the business that sets them apart from the myriad of products that are pre-produced to standard sizes as imports flooding the market.

"Up to 2010 things were growing and we had definite busy and quiet periods. After 2010 it has been sure in one thing, nothing is for sure. We had some bad years over our time but these past four years have been tough and we are not alone. All in all we are holding our own but it is tough," he said.

Away from his responsibilities across the Ipswich, Caboolture and Maroochydore outlets of Ireland Blinds, he is also the vice president of the Blind Manufacturers Association of Australia.

His first involvement in the industry bodies was with the Queensland based Venetian Blind Manufacturers' Association of Queensland.

Over time the dynamic range of products saw the move to the national body of the BMAA.

In his role of president, Mr Emms had the opportunity to establish a yearly expo, which was held at the Royal Pines over a number of years.

It is highly regarded and very successful.

He has voluntarily worked tirelessly with a colleague and committee to bring this event to fruition each year.

"Just recently we found that we had outgrown the facility at Royal Pines and last year held the event at the Gold Coast Convention Centre," he said.

He has given more than 20 years to the expo and in this role has been involved in tackling industry issues, having the opportunity to discuss these with Federal Cabinet Ministers, and other senior people in the industry and the ACCC.

"Things like cord safety on blinds has been a big issue for us and also the establishment of a blind energy rating scheme. We have been working at that for a number of years and hopefully it will give us a rating scheme like you see on fridges, washing machines and the like. It will be a big boost to the industry and consumers alike," he said.

"I enjoy being on the board but I think that come the 2016 elections I will think of retiring off the board and therefore as vice-president.

"I have to say I am looking to slow up a bit but I think it does keep me young."

At 73, Mr Emms would give many half his age a good run.

His passion and enthusiasm runs deep and he is aware that he needs to stay with Ireland Blinds to navigate through these difficult times.

"Phillip is more involved in management and with the reduced staffing load it comes back to us as owners to take on that load," he said.

Mr Emms was inducted into the blind manufacturers' Hall of Fame late last year and was humbled by the honour.

"It is nice to be recognised for service to the industry and the role that I have played," he said.

His expertise and energy will continue to steer Ireland Blinds and the BMAA into the future whatever that may hold.



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