Adler Predicts Recession as GDR Breaks New Ground

Daizy Gedeon
Good afternoon and welcome,

It is my very great pleasure and honour to be asked to speak this afternoon as I’ve known Daizy for nearly 30 years and watched with keen interest as the person mature and as the company evolved. GDR is no longer a Burwood centric, letter box dropping distribution business, it is now an integrated advertising and creative consultancy that also distributes letters and packages, brochures and paraphernalia around Australia.

GDR was established in 1980 by Daizy’s mother (Odette) and then her father (Elias) joined her and provided the family with enough income to sustain themselves as a family, bring up three children and generally have a good life without excess, this was the dream and the reality of Australia in the 20th century, if you worked hard and had a good idea.

As a venture capitalist when I make an investment I look at three things obviously the industry in which the company operates, the structure and financials of the company and the management mostly headed by a committed entrepreneur. Every venture capitalist has his or her own formula but for me the number one criteria is the entrepreneur and the management team. I have learnt through bitter experience that it is better to back the right person in the wrong industry rather than the wrong person in the right industry. The right person will ensure you will not lose your money even if the industry is going through a very tough time. Daizy is that entrepreneur. Daizy is without question a visionary but more a visionary with a heart, dedicated to her team and to her clients. This is without a doubt one of her greatest assets. To find a business and creative partner that is vested in your business is one of today’s greatest challenges and the reason why I believe GDR has been so successful to date.

I met Daizy in the late 1980s when I was asked to give a speech at the Australian / Lebanese Chamber of Commerce. Looking down at the sea of disinterested men, it was impossible not to notice this bright eyed young lady staring intently and listening to every word. Daizy introduced herself to me afterwards and told me she worked for The Australian and asked if she could interview me at a later time. Not wishing to be interviewed I indicated that I was not interested and as you can all appreciate with that disarming smile and doggard determination she interviewed me the following month. It was a great piece and the beginning of a wonderful friendship.

I have witnessed Daizy’s career evolution from journalist, where her love of Middle East politics and meeting many of the world’s political leaders led her to go on to make the multi-award winning documentary “Lebanon – Imprisoned Splendour”. I’m very proud to say that I was a sponsor/investor. Imprisoned Splendour for those of you who don’t know it is a documentary like no other about the true Lebanon, hosted by the then most famous Lebanese actor Omar Sharif. The documentary took the world by storm for its raw honesty and creative beauty, really a personification of Daizy herself. After Daizy had her three beautiful children – Tariza, Paris and Patrick, who I’d like to note are here today, I then watched the young journalist, aspiring filmmaker step into the next iteration of her life where she then took over her parents letterbox distribution business and in the eight years since she has been involved, on a full time basis, has taken the business from a revenue of sub $1 million to sub $10 million. And this is the reason we are here this afternoon to celebrate the relaunch and new commercial home of GDR.

It is important to understand the significance of what Daizy has achieved in less than a decade, women today run 40% of all new companies registered in Australia and are fast becoming a critical part of the small business sector. They now own 36% of Australian small to medium enterprises, which is nearly a 50% increase since the 1990s. Topaz Conway, chairwoman of Incubator and Investment Fund Springboard Enterprises Australia said recently “most women who start small businesses do not get beyond $1 million in revenue. Then there’s a handful that go beyond 1 million but when you reach that $5 million mark they drop off to next to nothing”. Daizy is becoming a force in her industry and a role model to be admired.

Between 2010 and 2015 only 10% of global venture capital funding went to female led businesses. Topaz Conway once again said “but those venture capitalists who have supported women led companies are seeing a greater return on those investments”. Ainslie Van Onselen who holds numerous directorships and is the co-chair of the hundred women of influence judging panel says “women proved to be better long term investors than men, because they stay the course of their strategy and aren’t prone to react to the vagaries of the market”. When you look at what Daizy has achieved and when you understand her ambition as I do, you do start to understand why Daizy is moving into rarefied company.

Business is changing and driving growth is the key challenge. In a world where margins are tight and client demands are high, business evolution and re-invention is key. This, in part, is what we are celebrating tonight the successful re-launch of a great brand and a look at what’s instore for the next iteration of GDR.

However, while there are many challenges all businesses are faced with – success comes from knowing who you are (often in a very cluttered market place) and finding your value – your worth. After years in business and a soul searching journey of understanding who GDR could truly help and create organic business growth for, Daizy defined her core target as SMEs, a strong collective often over looked for many reasons.

SMEs are firmly on the Government’s agenda and this is for good reason. They represent such a solid core within Australian business but their challenges are still extensive. They need specialist partners. The needs of SMEs are very different to large corporates.

SME’s are the backbone of an economy – they always have been and always will be.

Without question we are stepping into a mini recession – all economists agree. In fact we need a recession – Australia has had 25 years of unprecedented growth making everything quite simply – too expensive. We need a mild recession to regulate the economy. We need Adam Smith’s “Invisible Hand” to flush the system. But will it only be a mild recession?

– I believe, when we look back at the year 2017, from a 2019 perspective, we will call 2017 the “Great Recession” and in 2019 we will just be coming out of that recession – but that is a whole speech on its own.

– With the recent election of Donald Trump – the globalization and free trade trends will be questioned and reviewed.

– SMEs will weather this economic storm for the primary reason – they know how to budget & survive.

– Unlike big business, SMEs can’t just press a button and up pops a lawyer, or an accountant or even lunch – they are brilliant multi-taskers who are across all touch points of their business and most importantly – understand the economic value of great partnerships as they often don’t have scale to take all resources inhouse.

– Business can be lonely – however more so for small to medium business owners hence the reason for strong and true business partnerships.

– Business partnerships are like good marriages – they have endurance, trust and passion for shared goals and values.

– One piece of advice going into a recession – do not cut your marketing budgets – these are the times to invest in the right resources. Consolidate your partnerships and keep the investment steady and growing.

When Daizy and I were discussing her new positioning, she was very clear that not only her business but her passion lied in partnering SME’S – this is not a new thought in the commercial world but GDR executives and marketing depth gives it a competitive advantage for the benefit of their clients.

When I was first asked to give this address, I tried to find the right word to describe Daizy. Alas I failed, but the combination of two words came to mind – infectious enthusiasm. Daizy’s career, her family and her business passions have been born and grown on infectious enthusiasm. Daizy is a successful and unique hybrid – between great business acumen and true creativity and I have no doubt her passion, intellect, and love of all things creative will take both GDR and the business of her clients to scaleable heights and help them weather the economic recession we are about to step into. To my dear friend and colleague Daizy, we congratulate you on your business success, toast these amazing new offices and look forward to 6 watching the next iteration of an outstanding career and burgeoning business success. – Rodney Adler.

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