Walt and "Deb" met in May 1982
and an immediate permanent relationship was forged from that
night forward. Walt had been a tropical fish wholesaler
already since 1972 and although Deb found his career
interesting she was well on her way as a successful and busy
interior designer working for a large firm in the South Bay
area of Los Angeles.
Working separate careers for the next couple of years Deb
finally opened her own studio in 1984 and found great
success with many happy clients tapping into her talents.
It was about that time that Deb surprised Walt with a
birthday gift that was a trip to Tahiti for the upcoming
Christmas season. This was Walt's first trip to the South
Pacific and they were both excited to experience the crystal
clear blue waters together for the first time. It was
something that provided a memory for a lifetime and, as they
say, the seed was sewn.
Over the next few years Deb and Walt continued their separate
careers quite happily sharing a life getting married in
1986. Although she started to become more and more
interested in the fascinating marine life Walt would bring
to their home aquarium her design career was in full swing.
Then in 1989 Walt got an opportunity to travel to the
Kingdom of Tonga where he was asked to help a struggling
aquarium fish exporter learn more about the trade.
After only three days in Tonga Walt realized the opportunity
that lay before him and announced to Deb that they were
moving there. When she finally regained her senses and fed
their newborn girl (Brittany) and toddler (Kaelyn) she
reluctantly agreed not knowing how much hardship or success
was in store. Although it took over a year for Deb to wind
down her very successful career and join Walt her dedication
to the relationship, family and new business was the winning
combination that would allow them to last in this strange
land where short term failure for investment was the norm.
Since that time Deb has been the stone in the wall that kept
everything from falling. Walt's knowledge of the industry
and Deb's commitment to making sure everything was right for
family and office created a partnership rarely seen in our
industry for expats trying to make it in a land where
everything was foreign. It was not easy in those years and
is still very different from what they were used to for
conveniences, supplies and way of life. They were living a
true pioneer existence as strangers in a strange land and
not many women would have followed this path of her
husband's dream to risk everything. This is a great tribute
to the strength of her character for anyone who has met her.
Today Deb is CFO of the company and an important part of
every major decision that Walt Smith International has to
make. All of this while still raising two beautiful
daughters to adulthood that make both Walt and Deb very
proud. If you have had a chance to meet this most
interesting lady you know what we mean.
PRODUCT INFO •
Walt Smith International Fiji Ltd • PO BOX 4466 • Lautoka, Fiji Islands