As small businesses go, knife sharpening isn’t exactly the go-to option for many, if any, young entrepreneurs these days. But that’s the key to Alistair Oberhelm’s success, according to him.
Mr Oberhelm, 31, who goes by the nickname Obi, says the last decade has been a boon for his business, located in the inner Canberra suburb of Lyneham.
“Think about these figures,” Mr Oberhelm begins. “Since 2003, there have been six different leaders of the Labor party - 7 if you can’t Rudd Mark II. For the Liberals, the number is four, going to 5 if you count Turnbull’s first foray.
“We’ve had four different Prime Ministers over five years. I found a niche market that is surprisingly resilient despite our high output over recent years.”
The Seagull asked Mr Oberhelm what times of the year his services were most in need.
“Look, there’s been consistent business over the last few electoral cycles. The old fellas used to tell me it was the mid-year break and the summer break when MPs went home and listened to their constituents. But now with technology the voters can say whatever they want whenever they want.”
The business has had to hire two apprentices and move premises to a larger building to store more machinery. Mr Oberhelm says he’s even sending some employees overseas to industry conventions to expand their knowledge, although he’s found many more people over there want to learn from his experiences here.
“Our culture is quite different to other Western nations. There’s a lot more stability with the US political system, and even though Canada and the UK are Westminster systems, they really are nothing like us.”
The Seagull asked Mr Oberhelm who were his busiest customers, but he said such information being made public would hurt his reputation.
“We provide a rather discreet service here, but I will say it’s an exciting time to be an Australian,” Mr Oberhelm said with a wink.