Q&A with Swimart North Strathfield franchisee
Mark Spilsbury: ski patrol hero and current president of the Thredbo Ski Patrol Association
You’ve had a varied career – how did you end up as owner of Swimart North Strathfield?
It’s true – I’ve worn many hats during my career! An electrician by trade, I travelled the world as a satellite telecommunications consultant, worked in IT for many years and am now the proud owner Swimart North Strathfield.
But it sounds like you have another passion in life?
Yes, I learnt to ski when I was 15 and it’s been a passion for me ever since. I’ve volunteered as a ski patroller for over 20 years and I love it. I’m former president of the Australian Ski Patrol Association and current president of the Thredbo Ski Patrol Association.
So how do you juggle skiing and running a successful Swimart store?
Luckily winter is the low season in the swimming pool industry so I get to ski two to three weeks a year, usually in July and August, one week at a time. In addition to skiing here in Australia, I head overseas every year with fellow ski patroller friends in search of the best powder.
In 2007, you were awarded the Japanese Medal of the Red Ribbon which is awarded to individuals who have risked their own lives to save the lives of others. What happened?
While I was skiing in a remote area of northern Japan with a local guide and some Australian ski patroller friends, we came across a group of 22 skiers who had been caught in a major avalanche.
Luckily we always carry shovels, probes, beacons, food, water, spare gloves and hats and other emergency equipment when we’re skiing off-piste, so we did our best to rescue the skiers as quickly as possible. Weather conditions were deteriorating rapidly and it was particularly dangerous as another avalanche could have occurred at any time.
Despite our best efforts, two men died and eight more ended up in hospital with injuries including broken bones, ruptured lungs, bowels and kidneys.*
So what do you love most about being a Swimart franchisee?
I bought the Swimart franchise as I wanted to be my own boss and it suits me down to the ground. My team is great and I enjoy the teamwork and camaraderie across the Swimart network. And best of all, I can take time off and go skiing!
* To read more about Mark’s Japanese rescue, click here to read a story that appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald:http://www.smh.com.au/news/travel/valentines-day knights/2007/02/23/1171734017516.html?page=fullpage#contentSwap2