Parting letter from Ian Thomas

Time moves on somehow all too quickly, I had the greatest pleasure of signing over my business to two of my sons Matthew and Jaxon last week, finally allowing me to fully retire. My Daughter Andrea Benny deserves a special mention as she was pivotal in managing the business for the last 7 years and building and managing our panels. Andrea is now putting her efforts into managing her husband’s business and their children, I am also grateful that she employed Matthew and Jaxon allowing my escape.

This note marks my financial retirement from Ekas after that tentative purchase of Ekas in 1988, after 17 years as a Medical Laboratory Scientist. In 1988 Matt and Jax were starting school making Ekas a big part of their lives. Interestingly my view was never to hand on my business, that my children should tread their own path, so I am surprised that they have taken on the responsibility of running the Ekas business. Matt with his IT skills was doing some world leading online research at 19, Bluemoon came to us and said that everyone in the industry said they could online questionnaires and patch in keyed data, but it was only Ekas at that time that could actually do it for their project Johnny Walker “keep walking” campaign. Jaxon finished a science degree and has shown his ability in the numbers game.

I have enjoyed running Ekas and watching the industry grow into the IT age. I was fortunate to have been working in pathology that had both the money and access to the latest computing during 1971-1988.

When I took over Ekas they had just moved from punch cards and ICL mainframes to PC’s. Interestingly much of my work with clients in first ten years was to teach/handhold them through the process of how to use PC’s and office documents. When I first started in the laboratory the only calculator/computer was a slide rule.

It has been one of greatest pleasures seeing the industry grow, especially from data collection and processing from micro home-based business into an industry that has embraced standards to the point of writing them ourselves, and to see some of the data processing standard that I wrote still incorporated in the current world standard. Again, this links back to my experience as a Laboratory Manager for what is now Hanley Moir Pathology which was the first lab to be accredited in the early eighties where I was an accredited NATA accessor accrediting Biochemistry Laboratories.

Back to Ekas, a huge thank you to all our staff past and present for making Ekas the innovative company that it is today. And to the many clients I have engaged with over the years that have been with us leading to these very interesting times. A quote that has stuck with me from Andrew Kelly many years ago Director of the Leading Edge “We use Ekas because you are before the leading edge”.

Some Ekas highlights

  • First to use auto dialing and adopt sample management for CATI
  • Sending out auto start floppy disks for the Optus roll out to 600 respondents across  Australia to measure the time taken to connect a call.
  • First to allow clients to login and run tables on the fly for CATI projects in progress.
  • First mix mode paper and CATI integrated Volvo customer care.
  • Again, offering mixed mode online/Cati/paper.
  • Fully integrated CAPI via iPads.
  • And of course, Andrea’s medical panels.

Personal highlights

  • Working with the industry bodies: AMSRS, AMSRO, STDs Australia, APAC and ESOMAR
  • Being honoured a fellow of the Society especially coming from the data processing side of the industry
  • To be rewarded seeing my children allowing me to retire from the industry and giving me my new almost full-time work looking after my 6 grandchildren with the eldest turning 18.
  • Especially grateful to my wife Chris that has been of so supportive over all these years. The classic was having a loan to extend the home and demolishing the back of our house only to use that money to buy ekas instead, resulting in four children living on a verandah for 12months until we could afford to start the renovations as an owner builder.

In finishing my note, I wish the very best to the industry and that it may finally be paid and valued for the expertise it is offering our community, to our clients and that my sons find the same rewards that I have.

Thanks again to all in our industry, I hope that you all live long and interesting lives and hopefully our paths will keep crossing.


Ian Thomas BA Applied Science FAMSRS CPMR  retired FAICD

Past committee member AMSRO, NSW AMSRS, APAC

Past president AMSRO

Ekas Research
Ekas Research


  1. Sarah Wrigley

    Congratulations Ian on your retirement! You devoted so much time to AMSRO and ensuring quality was the centrepoint of everything we do in research. Stay safe and well and enjoy your sailing!

    1. Ian Thomas

      Thanks for your kind words Sarah, I do miss the interactions with other like minded people
      Definitely time for other priorities

  2. Peter Harris

    congratulations and thank you for all you have done for the professional over many years. You are a great friend and glad you have been able to retire in peace knowing the business you started is in safe hands. Doesn’t happen all that often but its wonderful when it does. Enjoy mate

  3. Mark Sundquist

    Please pass on my congratulations to Ian. On behalf of Fiftyfive5 (plus old gang at TLE) and the industry, thank you. EKAS was (and still is) such an important partner for us through the years and always delivered. Enjoy your retirement. You’ve earned it.

    Mark Sundquist
    P.S I still think I owe you $50 from that night at the Casino 20 years ago!

  4. Tim Biddlecombe

    Best wishes to you Ian on your full retirement. An amazing journey and one that I have enjoyed sharing with you, especially in my earlier days. I am sure that the business is in good hands and will continue to prosper.

  5. Sarah Campbell

    On behalf of AMSRO, a very big thank you for your commitment, expertise and industry support over many years.
    Your tenure as AMSRO President (2009) oversaw a period of significant change in our industry, and AMSRO, our members and the wider community remain indebted to you for your legacies across legislative change (clarification between market research and telemarketing) and your strong commitment to ‘quality ‘as a differentiator from non-AMSRO members and protection for respondents. Your successes continue to benefit the industry today and are a testament to your leadership and foresight. Thank you.
    Wishing you all the very best for your retirement. You will be greatly missed, but your professionalism and leadership have ensured that Ekas and the industry as a whole, has a strong future. Sarah Campbell, Executive Director, AMSRO

  6. Tim Gee

    We were starting out on our own and so were you. Great attention to our needs and ideas on how to best solve the problems. Flexibility when appreciation of hurdles we faced when tricky projects needed extra inputs. Risky to get friendly in business but we managed it!. Well done, great achievements and a builder of empires! Always a family man and guess what….the family carries on the business. Tim Gee ex MD IMRAS.


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