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Saving possums and surfing Sydney with a successful business

While most of us stick with “nine to five” jobs and take whatever R&R we can get in between, Stuart Ireland does things a little differently.

Stuart is your regular, likeable ‘Aussie bloke’ with a laid-back attitude. This mad keen surfer from Tasmania worked as an engineer on a boat and travelled Europe as a self-proclaimed ‘gypsy’ for many years, before relocating and settling into Sydney.   

“I worked for a few different people doing things like laying floors and other menial stuff – and I quickly realised that the 9-5 grind was not for me,” he says of his early days in the Harbour City.”

Opportunity knocks

After working part time for a local real estate agent, retrieving possums lodged in wall cavities and animal proofing rental properties, Stuart realised that he’d found his niche that was in high demand. Better still his calling allowed him to dictate his own hours.

And that’s when Possum Busters was born in 2006 and Stuart has never looked back, surfing mornings and afternoons, and keeping the possums at bay in between. 

Early obstacles

The biggest obstacle Stuart faced when he started Possum Busters eleven years ago was public perception.

“Most people thought they’d call someone, and a guy would rock up in stubbies and thongs, drinking a can of VB and just get rid of the animal for free.”

“Changing people’s awareness around things like safe procedures and animal welfare regulations was challenging initially. Particularly on the tight marketing budget we had back then,” says Stuart.

“We started out advertising in the Yellow Pages. Most people don’t even know what that is anymore,” he laughs. “It’s so much easier to get traction these days.”

Built to care 

Stuart’s company is now a market leader in Sydney, with a strong reputation as the only animal retrieval service that has the necessary insurances and safety protocols to work on multi-storey, high-rise buildings. And a company that genuinely cares about the welfare of the animals they’re rescuing.

“All native animals are protected, and everything we do has been designed around preventing them from sustaining injuries, or even being placed under stress,” he says.

“Once the possum is in the roof, we fix all other holes, meaning it’s essentially stuck in there. We then take a tile out and fit a little one-way, Perspex doggy-door that the possum naturally lets itself out of.

“So they remain within their habitat, and no harm comes to them. Small things like that help the animals.”

Surfing the seas of success 

Stuart says the single greatest reward of running a small business is “the lifestyle - 100 per cent!”

“I’ve achieved that dream of being able to surf in the morning and afternoon. I may not get to do it every day, but I certainly get to do it a lot more than most people. Sure, there’s stress that comes with owning a business. But to slowly achieve your goals through hard work makes it all worthwhile.”

To find out more about Possum Busters click here:

Possum Removal