Being a Mentor

Being a Mentor

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When founder and former Managing Director of ARC, Ian Ball attended the opening of the Retirement Communities Australia’s (RCA) newest community club house at Point Cook Village recently, he had the opportunity to catch up with many old friends and colleagues including RCA Managing Director, Andrew Philip. “Ian was absolutely a pioneer of the retirement village industry,” says Andrew Philip. “I am very fortunate to count him as a mentor and role model. His company was such a great place to work that my partners and I couldn’t resist ‘putting the band back together’ and continue following the path that Ian trail-blazed in his career.”

Although ARC was sold in 2007, Mr Ball has maintained a keen interest in making life better for seniors and has turned his focus to his residential care business Arcare. Meanwhile several of the senior executives who worked alongside him at ARC have formed RCA and are now building and operating retirement villages that are inspired by the example set by Mr Ball and his partners, John, Russell and Graham Knowles.

“Back in 1968, I was working as a contractor for the government. In those days, retirement villages were run by the charitable sector and subsidised by the government. They were smaller and didn’t offer any of the extra features and services that we now expect” said Mr Ball, “One day, I was speaking with one of the residents, and realised that there was an opportunity to offer something different.”

Mr Ball is still passionate about retirement villages and clearly enjoys recalling those early days when ARC was in its infancy and he was the on the ground getting to understand what seniors wanted. ARC was to eventually build over 3,500 units – the first 700 sold by Mr Ball himself. “It was a wonderful opportunity,” he says. “This allowed me to conduct the first 2000 interviews, so I really grew to understand the space and get a real feel for the people we were offering services to. These days, most senior executives do not have that kind of ‘on the ground’ training”

“Our philosophy was always to create more affordable and enjoyable lives for our residents by harnessing the power of a community.”

“We took a view that a village was really a co-operative that allowed a group of people to chip in to afford services they couldn’t otherwise afford. We started with fundamentals – a manager, a gardener and a nurse and provided the facilities for a vibrant and interesting social program. We also involved residents in decision making – utilising the wealth of knowledge and skills our residents had by forming Resident Committees.”

Like many entrepreneurs, Mr Ball was open to collaborating with others. “I read Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. He observed that talent was the cheapest commodity known to man – so I took his advice and surrounded myself with a handful of very talented people with legal, accounting, management and architectural skills. They stayed with us for 35 years and we all grew together. I believe that business is 90 percent luck – the trick is to recognise when you are in a lucky spot and go for it.”

“It was a great ride and the decision to sell was one of the hardest I have ever made, but everything has its time and the time was right.” Ian Ball is hardly the retiring type – dividing his time between Arcare and his Aberdeen Angus farm - and watching the growth of the RCA villages.

“It has been great watching the progress of Andrew and his team – they are all experts in their field.” When asked about the future, he says “One day when I slow down, I’d like to write a book about the industry...but at the moment I don’t have time!”

There's good reasons to be a Mentor

  • A relationship works both ways – you’ll gain as much as you give
  • A great way to serve the community
  • Gives renewed enthusiasm in life
  • Offers new ways of looking at things
  • Helps to ‘pay it forward’
  • Adds variety to your life
  • It’s a fine way to leave a legacy

 

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