Incoming Chair’s Message: Doug Eglington
It is an absolute honour to serve as the Chair of the Board for the Oakville Chamber of Commerce. While I have been a member for over 18 years, I thought it would be best to properly introduce myself to the community by sharing my story.
I was born in Pietermaritzburg, the capital of Natal province. The town is situated at the base of the Drakensberg Mountains, about 100km inland from Durban. Life was extremely good. There was zero crime, and we played sports – mostly rugby and cricket. We swam and had mud fights in the Umsinduzi River. We made tin canoes out of corrugated iron and paddled in the river. When we were older, we had more serious canoes and paddled the famous Duzi Marathon – a 3-day canoeing adventure from Pietermaritzburg to Durban.
I attended Maritzburg College, a boy’s school, and am still in contact, through WhatsApp, with the old ‘Class of 67’. Like me, quite a few have left South Africa and are living in the United States, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada.
After school, it was soon time to leave the comfort of home and be drafted into the Army. I had a year “in the bush” and can only remember the good times I had. We were based north of Durban, in Zululand, and only a short walk to the sea.
After one year, I was back in Pietermaritzburg –which is a school and University City. I was one of the worst students, and after a couple years doing Articles of Accounting, I decided to leave. Whilst doing my Articles, I drove out of town to different businesses to do the books and some auditing. I enjoyed being on the road, seeing businesses flourishing, and young entrepreneurs making good money.
I joined Lever Brothers and part of my sales territory was the South Coast. While I was not fully committed to the job, I was the top salesman. I soon started in business with a partner, selling wall to wall carpets. My next endeavor was a kitchen design studio – and this led to my offer of a sales position with AEG in Johannesburg. After a couple of years, I was offered a position in Cape Town as Branch Manager, where I was in charge of appliances, power tools, Telekunken Communications Equipment, and kitchen design. Part of my job was entertaining the engineers visiting from Germany, who wanted a weekend in Cape Town. Sheena, my girlfriend at the time and now my wife, and I entertained the visitors at the top of Table Mountain and Cape Point. We insisted they swim in the cold Atlantic Ocean, took them to wine farms, and dined at seafood restaurants and steak houses. Cape Town is famous for its abundant seafood and beef!
After 6 years in Cape Town, at age 36, I accepted a 5-year contract to come to Canada to work for the distributor of AEG Appliances. It wasn’t long before I decided to form my own company, here in Oakville, Euro-Line Appliances Inc. When it is safe to do so, I hope you consider visiting South Africa. I am always willing to share my stories and recommend places to stay and sites to see. I look forward to when we can meet in person, and I can hear your stories. While the year ahead of us looks uncertain, I am confident our community will continue to be resilient throughout the challenges ahead.
Take care and stay safe.