Tony Skinner 00:03
Hi, and welcome to www.podcastmybusiness.com and our podcast channel. And today we have Gail Greatorex from www.productsafetysolutions.com.au. How are you, Gail?
Gail Greatorex 00:20
I’m really well. Thank you, Tony. Thanks for having me on.
Tony Skinner 00:23
That’s all right and because Okay, and it’s your own fault – we’ve got Father’s Day coming up. So Great or ex what?
Gail Greatorex 00:31
I didn’t think you were seriously going to hit me with that. It’s an interesting name. Actually the derivation is English, even though it doesn’t sound it it’s an interesting name.
Tony Skinner 00:42
There you go. OK. I did my dad joke, my homage to the upcoming Father’s Day. So there we go. Cool. All right. So I think it’s interesting in the world of business the thoughts on product safety and the different requirements so forth for manufacturers and importers might not be as high on the list as it should be. Is that your experience?
Gail Greatorex 01:11
Yeah, pretty much so, that’s often the case. I understand that businesses have a vast array of things to think about. And the sort of products that I deal with are everyday consumer products. So it might be toys or children’s furniture. Might also be other products around the house, exercise bikes, car jacks, you never know what I’ll be working on. But businesses do find it a challenging area. And one of the key messages that I like to present is that the earlier you think about safety, the easier it will be for everybody and the more likely that you will have a safer product to present to consumers.
Tony Skinner 01:55
Okay, so what would be the priorities when you’re thinking about either manufacturing or importing a product, making it safer.
Gail Greatorex 02:07
Okay, so the very first thing is to check if there’s any regulations that apply to your product because there will be certain specifications that you need to meet. And that all needs to be factored into the ordering and manufacturing process. Or if you’re an importer, you need to understand what’s required and have some checks in place for whoever you’ve sourced the material from. It’s a complex area, is always changing and I guess that’s one of the reasons why I’ve stayed in the area for so long because you learn something every day and it’s interesting. So, products evolve. Technology is obviously changing products and also how the supply chain is managed, fashion changes, then consumer expectations are changing. And there’s ways and means for businesses to stay on top of things. And there’s quite a lot of good services around, you know, you can get people – most of our products are made offshore these days. But there’s good agents to manage inspections and quality assurance and that sort of thing. And of course testing to check that your product meets standards.
Tony Skinner 03:25
Yeah, it’s interesting, what you say is that the first thing to do is check standards. I can’t believe that there’s any product that doesn’t have any government rule or regulation around it.
Gail Greatorex 03:37
Well, the vast majority of products don’t have specific rules and regulations on them. And you know, there’s certain categories of products like Therapeutic Goods, cars and food which have their own separate regimes. But apart from a relatively small number of products that are subject to mandatory standards in the general consumer market, most of them, it relies really on the deterrents that apply to businesses. So the deterrents being things like if you sell an unsafe product, then you have to go to the trouble of recalling it. You might face a lawsuit from an injured party, and those kind of remedial strategies that the government has in place, but the government is currently considering a broader, what they call a general safety provision, which would require all businesses to check that their products are safe before they’re put on sale. But that’s still in the works and whether in the current economic environment that is still going to take place is still up in the air at the moment. In the meantime, I use my business to try to educate different suppliers, importers, retailers, and so forth, and try to work with different parties to encourage them to do the right thing. There’s actually quite a bit of good work going on by some of the business and industry associations. And I spend a bit of time with them to try to just kind of bring in a bit of self-regulation.
Tony Skinner 05:27
Now, I was a long standing member of Choice. I used to love getting the Choice magazine until… There’s only so many things they can test and I thought, oh my god, it’s the fourth time in two years they’ve tested microwave ovens. Okay still well worth looking at whenever you buy a new product or service and I still do that. But certainly, you were right about businesses don’t want to be noticed for doing the wrong thing, because Choice, one of the biggest Choice campaigns, is the Lemon award each year where they look for those sorts of products.
Gail Greatorex 06:08
Yes, absolutely. They go through all the different behaviors including unsafe products. And I’m not sure if you’re familiar with the Thermomix situation from a few years ago, that was the kitchen appliance with multiple features on it. And it had a lid, that was the seal on the lid was faulty and it was actually like a blender but it heats the food as well. And because the seal was faulty, it had come away and sprayed piping hot liquid onto its users. And there were multiple cases in Australia where people had been injured but the company simply pretended it wasn’t happening. They denied any kind of right to recall or compensation for the consumers and failed to notify the government as they are required to when the products had caused an injury. And the ACCC took them to court with a record fine of over four and a half million dollars. So yet, you would think it would have been a fairly straightforward thing to get right. So that in that case, it was very much an attitude problem on the part of the company. But indeed, you know, it’s something that perhaps they could have attended to in the design phase, and even if they hadn’t, they should have attended to it once they started finding out that there was a problem.
Tony Skinner 07:45
It’s interesting you say that because Choice recently did a review on the Thermomix and if it’s well worth buying or not.
Gail Greatorex 07:55
Uh huh. I don’t think I’ve caught up with that one. Hopefully they’ve fixed all those problems. I know it was a very popular product, so hopefully they’ve learned their lessons and fixed things from there, then they might be okay. I used to work with the ACCC in their product safety branch for many years. And it was through that, that I built up my knowledge and expertise in product safety. And so it was only after I left there eight years ago that I decided to set up my business, which is involved in consulting to retailers and importers, and also doing some training. And as well as that I’ve set up a website, which is designed to be a go to, to try to bridge the gap between what the ACCC puts on the Product Safety Australia website, and the other gaps that businesses have in their knowledge. So I try to provide information that way. I do recommend that any business selling consumer goods have a look and register for notifications of product safety recalls. In fact, I recommend that everybody do that. I’m sure you’d be a subscriber, Tony.
Tony Skinner 09:20
Absolutely. I recall that I am.
Gail Greatorex 09:25
Very good. Well, you never know when a product that you’ve got at home or that your family has, is going to be recalled. But I always say it’s a learning opportunity for businesses that if a product gets recalled that’s similar to one that they’re selling, then it’s a learning opportunity to go and see, well, is there any chance that that hazard applies in the product I’ve got as well?
Tony Skinner 09:54
Yeah, and it is difficult even as a business or consumer to keep up with what’s in, what’s out, what’s good, what isn’t safe and so on. So I think that’s a great suggestion. 100 per cent.
Now, you’re a busy bee, you’re also an author. And I love the title of your book Cherry Blossom Footsteps because I have a couple of cherry blossom trees in my garden. And I discovered that they’re Korean and not Japanese and the difference is that Korean cherry blossoms blossom earlier than the Japanese ones.
Ooh, that’s interesting, because in Japan it’s quite a ritual annual thing and they have like, like on TV weather reports, they have a blossom report each night so that people know where to go and find the blossoms once they’ve bloomed.
And, yeah, I think they’re probably all Japanese and just so people are aware. I know when the winter is cold because the cherry blossoms start blossoming and if it’s not cold enough, they struggle.
Gail Greatorex 11:03
Yeah, and maybe climate change is having some influence on that.
Tony Skinner 11:08
Hmm. So share with us a little bit more about the adventures in Japan and Hong Kong.
Gail Greatorex 11:15
So this is my first novel. And it took me quite some time to write it because I’ve got other businesses to attend to. But I actually just thought I’d try my hand at creative writing and the only writing I’d done before was on my travels in keeping a travel journal. So I just started writing a little fictionalized travel story, and it’s about a young woman who goes on her first overseas trip and she has springtime in Japan so she can wander the cherry blossom paths and sink into a hot bath and explore the vibrant city scenes of Tokyo and the like. And then she moves on to Hong Kong and gets to experience all of the vibrant place that Hong Kong can be. It’s an engaging story, and I really enjoyed the process and I can certainly recommend writing for anybody. They say that we’ve got a book inside everybody. And I just thoroughly enjoyed the writing process. And you know, I found it a great relaxation. At the time I started writing, work was very stressful and I’ve just thoroughly enjoyed the process and I didn’t put any pressure on myself by trying to learn how I was supposed to be writing. I just kind of did it straight from head to keyboard and it was a very relaxing process.
Tony Skinner 12:51
Yeah, well, I definitely love Tokyo. I am looking forward to sometime going back. They are insane in Tokyo. They are lovely people. Very friendly. Very helpful. But wow, it’s so eye opening.
Gail Greatorex 13:13
Mm yes it’s a very kind of a mixed culture isn’t it? They embrace all the new technology and some really out there kind of cultural things but then they’ve got a lovely spirituality and calmness and the lack of crime, mostly in the cities as well. It’s a fascinating place and I love visiting there myself. I guess, until we can do that the next best thing is a bit of armchair travel, which my book aims to provide.
Tony Skinner 13:48
Absolutely. And that’s what it’s good for as well. Okay, great. Look. Thanks very much for your time Gail. Anything else you’d like to add?
Gail Greatorex 13:56
Did we say that my author name is Gail Holloway. I decided to use a pseudonym as an author to keep it separate from my product safety profile. And so I’ve got a website as an author, www.gailholloway.com
People can go and visit there where I’ve got details of the book and a little bit more about me.
Tony Skinner 14:20
Hmm, fantastic. And yeah. I like to say Tokyo and Hong Kong fantastic. Hong Kong’s a little bit like Sydney I thought, but Tokyo is so different. It’s nice.
Gail Greatorex 14:32
Yes, it is. Yeah.
Tony Skinner 14:34
All right. Great. All right. Thanks for your time Gail.
Gail Greatorex 14:36
Thanks, Tony. Cheers.