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Gary and Jackie melt hearts and metal with new business

5 minute read

The year is 1985, and Gary and Jackie Roberts have just tied the knot. It’s been 35 years since then, and the pair are just as in love as they were all those years ago.

Gary and Jackie have gone through life, achieving many milestones together with their most recent - owning a business.  Starting a business can be daunting for anyone, starting a business with your partner, maybe even more so. But for Gary and Jackie, opening a business together was a no brainer.

Originally from Melbourne, Gary and Jackie wanted to escape to the country, and so, they made the decision five years ago to move up to Wedderburn in Rural Victoria.

At the time, the couple were unemployed and were referred to our team in Bendigo. Having spoken of their hopes of running their own business, their Case Manager suggested that they consider the New Business Assistance with NEIS program, delivered by PeoplePlus.

As a part of the program, participants are encouraged to have a business backup plan, in the event their original business idea falls through, which is exactly what the pair had to do.

Assessing their key strengths, the two decided that their plan B would be a garden art business, as Gary had previous experience as a welder and Jackie had expertise in admin and accounts payable.

“Coming towards the end of it was a bit daunting because we weren’t sure what we were going to do because we had to use our plan B and virtually had the exams all at the end, but we got through it,” mentions Gary.

Thanks to the program, Gary and Jackie have started Mara Metal Art, crediting our Program Coordinator, Wendy, and our Enterprise Training Coordinator, Ramesh, for helping them turn their business dreams into a reality.

“It’s the confidence they give you to go and start your business and the mentoring you receive 12 months after you start your business, and still Wendy is in contact with Jackie,” said Gary.

“Ramesh will give us some tips to try that market and to try another market. The mentoring part of the program really helps as well. I think that’s very important,” explained Jackie.

Metal sausage dogs made by Jackie and Gary at Mara Metal Art

Mara Metal Art has now been in full swing for over a year, with Gary and Jackie creating metal insect, animals and plants for customers to display in a range of settings, most notably their garden.

But it’s no secret that owning a business with a spouse can change the relationship dynamic between a couple, as you’re not just taking a chance on your business, but also on your relationship.

For Gary and Jackie, however, working together has only brought them closer.

“Well, there’s nothing difficult about it. That’s why we’ve been together for 38 years. We get along really well together, and we don’t sneer and that sort of thing. If we didn’t get along well, it wouldn’t work,” mentioned Gary.

“And we do a lot more together, as in going to garage sales, scrap metal dealers, we do markets. So, we spend a lot of time together which is good,” said Jackie

Gary and Jackie have certainly got a good working relationship, but that doesn’t mean that owning a business doesn’t come with its occasional sacrifices.

“It’s seven days a week at the moment, and we’d like to get a bit bigger so we can take a bit off ourselves work-wise and have a little more of a personal life. It’s difficult, but at the same time, I’d rather be doing this than be working for anybody else, and Jackie’s the same,” discussed Gary.

Gary and Jackie have big plans for Mara Metal Art, and they wish to share some sound advice to other couples looking to start a business together.

“Make sure you get along and that you love each other because it can be a struggle sometimes,” advised Gary

“I think as a couple you need to get along really well together because you’re spending a lot more time talking about what will work for the business, so communication really helps,” said Jackie.

After 38 years together, this power couple is still very much in love and very much on the path to creating a successful career for themselves. I guess it must be true what they say; love really does conquer all.

At PeoplePlus, we offer the New Business Assistance with NEIS program in the Bendigo region.

This program allows jobseekers the opportunity to become self-employed business owners by delivering vital business training and mentoring. 

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