'I’ve been very lucky': Young entrepreneur credits local connection

Devin Familton has never doubted he can do whatever he sets his mind to, despite his age. Photo:...
Devin Familton has never doubted he can do whatever he sets his mind to, despite his age. Photo: Ashley Smyth
Devin Familton is not your average 23-year-old.

He opened his first business, Baarkers Dog Grooming, at 19, is a real estate agent and is renovating to sell his third house in three years.

Mr Familton had always "wanted to do things for myself and work for myself" and the strong community support he felt living and growing up in Oamaru had given him the confidence to pursue what he set his mind to.

"Possibly having that support in town, knowing that you could potentially never fail, because you’d always have the people to back you.

"I’ve been very lucky with Oamaru. I wouldn’t be able to do this anywhere else.

"I’ve been brought up here, gone to school, gone to church ... made a lot of connections to do something and be known.

"Whereas if I was to buy the groomers in Christchurch, I wouldn’t be known, and probably wouldn’t have the same results."

The young entrepreneur has recently returned from an Aspiring Young Leaders Forum in Wellington.

He attended the four-day conference with two other young leaders from the Waitaki district, Talitha Turbucz (23) and Lochlan Cowles (18), as well as about 180 others from around the country.

Miss Turbucz recently graduated from Otago University with a business degree.

Born to Romanian parents, she moved to Oamaru aged 7. She is a residential leader at Salmond College, marketing assistant at Numat and also a youth helper at the Papakaio Community Church.

Lochlan lives in Otematata and attended Waitaki Boys’ High School.

He was a year 13 prefect, a member of the Waitaki District Youth Council from 2018 to 2020, and a member of Schools Strike 4 Climate last year.

Lochlan is a member of The Hive, a group founded by the Ministry of Youth Development to increase young people’s participation in government policy development in New Zealand.

Mr Familton said he enjoyed being exposed to and meeting people from different cultures, which he had not previously had the opportunity to do.

The forum ran for four days and involved spending a day in parliament, as well as sport and community service activities.

The activities were interspersed with presentations by a number of inspirational speakers.

Mr Familton said the main thing he gained from the forum was learning to accept people as they were.

"Not so much, like, how I could be a leader, or a young person, in society, but more just taking people as they are, and not having any judgement of them.

"It was all just personal growth ... and how you’d put that back into your leadership or the community."

He was enjoying his new role as a real estate agent with One Agency Oamaru, and the freedom that came with it.

He recently sold Baarkers.

"I think, for me, setting it up, and making something really cool was the fun part ... and it was awesome to be able to go into real estate already having a clientele from it, and having that backstop if real estate was quiet, waiting for it to take off.

"But now that real estate’s doing well, it was easy to pass it on. So I’ve passed it on to one of my employees and her parents."

Mr Familton never doubted his ability in business, despite his youth.

"I feel like I’m very mature for my age, like I’m already a bit sort of older in my mindset, so I feel like I can do all these things at a young age ... and when you’ve got the support of the community ... it was quite easy to get into."

In 2019, he ran for the Waitaki District Council, narrowly missing out on election. In the Oamaru ward, which has six vacancies, he was the seventh-highest polling candidate.

He was not driven by money, but by a desire to be "comfortable" and "being able to do everything that I want to do" and had a preference to focus on the positives rather than the negatives.

"I’m not a cocky person, but I think highly of what I can achieve. I think having the confidence in knowing I can achieve something is what makes me able to do it."

Asked about the future, Mr Familton preferred to focus on the here and now.

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