National success for homegrown Ballina business
After years of study and hard work, Jannah Hardefeldt finished her Marine Science and Management degree in 2012.
She'd graduated with first class honours studying coral and anemone ecotoxicology and biology, and had written multiple peer-reviewed publications.
But the next year Ms Hardefeldt started a very different career ‒ in fencing and construction.
And to her surprise she loved it, and she was good at it.
Her impressive skills have helped Ballina-based Northern Rivers Fencing win two categories at the recent Australian Fencing Awards.
Ms Hardefeldt said it was a huge honour for a business that started out in 2012 as a backyard operation run by local man Josh Bruen.
They now employ 10 people and have their own manufacturing workshop.
Ms Hardefeldt ‒ who manages the administration and residential sales and oversees the project management of work ‒ said she was very proud to win the Women in Industry category.
She has established herself as a "trusted and competent woman in the fencing industry", and yes, her marine science degree has helped.
"This higher degree learning gave me the skills in communication and management that would later form the foundation of my strong work ethic and commitment to our business within the fencing industry," she said.
"When I first came on board in 2013 I thought there was no way I could find the same passion and fulfilment within the construction industry which I knew nothing about.
"But I've found that the gratification of seeing the business grow to what it is today and the hard work I have put into the business has been just as rewarding."
It hasn't been easy for a young woman in a man's industry.
Ms Hardefeldt admitted she had faced gender bias, barriers and challenges along the way.
"I've worked hard to prove myself … I worked onsite with my partner," she said.
"This gave me the knowledge of the various types of fencing and procedures, which gave me the confidence to grow my skills and understanding.
"As my knowledge and industry experience expanded, my role in the business evolved."
The other national award that Northern Rivers Fencing won was the Innovation and Excellence in Colorbond Steel Fencing.
The project used Lysaght Custom Orb, a corrugated roof cladding product, and Australian hardwood to create something very special.
"Lysaght Custom Orb is not a standard fencing product in our area so we designed fixing methods and bracing so that the sheeting was secure and the structure sound," Northern Rivers Fencing explained in their submission for the award.
"This fence provides an interesting timber and metal interchange with a dramatic contrast between man-made and nature.
"The end result was a beautiful and practical fence and an ecstatic client."
Visit Northern Rivers Fencing for more information about this local business.