International Women's Day: Meet Anthea Strathdee

Just do it: Anthea Strathdee (centre) encourages women to become involved in business. She is pictured with staff members Amy Smith and Fiona Stephens. Photo: Supplied
Just do it: Anthea Strathdee (centre) encourages women to become involved in business. She is pictured with staff members Amy Smith and Fiona Stephens. Photo: Supplied

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When Anthea and Andrew Strathdee were presented with the opportunity to purchase the business in which Andrew has served his apprenticeship more than two decades ago, the husband and wife team decided to accept the challenge.

The pair had already been running their own business for a decade when, in 2014, they were enticed to return and take over the helm of  Lower Mountains Air Conditioning.

"And we are so thrilled we did," Mrs Strathdee said. "We absolutely love it."

And while air conditioning installation is purely left to Andrew and the team, Anthea plays a pivotal role in the day-to-day operation of the business.

"I play every role possible in the business - other than installation," she said.

"I do the books [accounting], BAS (business activity statements for tax), payroll, sales, marketing, customer service, solve problems, book all the jobs and order all the parts."

On the eve of International Women's Day 2019, Mrs Strathdee said: "I think it is just good for a mum or a woman to be involved in any business."

Being a small business owner in this industry is a world away from Mrs Strathdee's previous occupation - she was a gemologist tasked with grading diamonds.

But it is the challenges and rewards of this recent venture with her husband which sparkles for the 38-year-old.

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"I've gone from a glamorous industry to a tradie industry and I've had to learn everything from scratch, which is both daunting and exciting," she said. "I continually learn each and every day, developing a deeper knowledge of the industry." 

As many mums do, Anthea juggles business commitments with caring for her three sons and is also into her fourth year as president of her boys' P and C committee - currently lobbying for a new hall for the local school.

"I just don't sleep," she joked. "I like to always have my hand in something - being able to help."

Working-side-by-side with Andrew, developing their own strong team and growing the business into a larger company are the ultimate rewards for Anthea and she is quick to encourage other women to step into the small business arena.

"Don't be frightened to take the step and challenge yourself," she said. "And remember, no regrets, always look upwards and onwards.

"Try everything at least once and be mindful to involve your family and friends."

It is also vital, Mrs Strathdee said, to anchor yourself with a strong foundation of knowledge, because this will build your confidence - something which is important in a male dominated industry.

"It's all about knowledge and confidence," she said.