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