Ship name / Flight number: SS Iberia
Arrival date: 17/01/1959
Thank you BBM, you helped me to come from nothing to having a company listed on the Australian Stock Exchange and a wonderfully exciting life. I set out to Australia in December 1958 in the SS Iberia with a mate from a little country village in Shropshire.
In Australia BBM placed me in an excellent company so I could follow my dream of becoming a Civil Engineer.
We were also placed in the BBM hostel at Homebush. Far from the promise made to our parents of having a Big Brother to look after us until I was 21 – I was kicked out onto the street for having been out of bed after the 10.00pm curfew having a pillow fight.
I survived. Four of the other guys left the hostel and we rented a flat in Strathfield. Over the next few years I lived in about ten different places.
I found I did not have the qualifications to study to be a Civil Engineer, so I enrolled at night school to get the Leaving Certificate to gain entry.
After the two years of study I entered the NSW University where I studied for 6 years part time to gain my University degree whilst still working for the company that BBM had placed me into.
Early in these eight years, Billy Graham, the evangelist came to Australia. The landlady talked two of the boys into going to a rally. They came back as converts and we all ended up going to the local church, where we discovered a lot of girls – so, of course, we kept going back.
Here I met my wonderful wife and over the years we have been fortunate to have propagated three children and seven grandchildren.
On gaining my Civil Engineering degree, I decided that I wanted to look at other opportunities and in 1966 moved to work for a Shopping Centre developer. I was involved in the development of centers in Croydon, Victoria, Marion, South Australia and Frenches Forest, NSW.
Being ambitious, I wanted to understand more about management and joined a professional Management Consulting company (PA Management Consultants) in 1969 working on numerous projects such as Sydney Opera House, Qantas Flight kitchen at Mascot, and CBC Bank Computer Center at St Leonards. etc.,
Whilst at the Management Consulting company, I undertook part time study and NSW University to gain an MBA.
I moved from the Management Consulting company in 1972 to start a Management Consulting company for Computer Science Australia (82% owned by the AMP society and 20% by CSC of the US). The financial deal was that I would be paid a lower salary until I had it up and running. After 9 months I had the company up and running and asked for the salary adjustment. I found myself in the office of the big boss – who ended up calling me a black mailer and I promptly told him where to stick his job.
I was out of work!!!
A meeting with two of my MBA mates, set me on the course in 1973 of opening my own management consulting practice centered on the building industry.
It was successful very quickly and in 1974 I added a Building Company to the Management Consulting – by 1978 (for four months only) we were the biggest builder in NSW.
In 1981 we went into Property Development and grew dramatically. By 1986 we were large enough to be listed on the Australian Stock Exchange.
This all came crashing down in 1992 when interest rates went from 7% to 24% within the space of a few months.
We were building hotels for Alan Bond who could not pay us $3 million and other developers were in the same situation. We had about $200 million of our own property development and we could not pay the 24% interest bill – it all crashed – and I was out of work.
The external accountants alerted me to an opportunity in the wine industry. I knew nothing about the industry, so I took a crash course at the library to study up and find out what it was about.
I went into the industry in 1996, it was a very good business, however it was too good. There was too much profit, and everyone was piling in – so in 2003, before the whole industry crashed, I sold out to Brian McGuigan.
I was left with a 650 HA property in Griffith NSW which I had purchased to cover in vines– so I decide to play farmer for a while having fun growing Rice, Wheat, Corn, Sugar Plums etc.
A new crop was being offered by NSW Ag and CSIRO and I decided to give it a go. Eight years later we harvested our first crop of Jojoba. There were very few growers and no organised market for the crop.
Now it is 2008, and in discussions with my daughter we decided to sell the Jojoba directly to the public by developing a skin care company around the product.
This was the birth of The Jojoba Company – we are now stocked in about 2,000+ stores throughout Australia, NZ and the UK. Both my daughters work in the company.
My other child, a son, is working in the building industry as NSW General Manager of a very large Project Management company – he has about 120 project managers under his wing.
I and my wonderful wife are still living in the house we built in 1965 when we were first married.
It has been a wonderful life – thank you BBM for bringing me to Australia where a boy from a Council house in a small village was given the opportunity to succeed – I wonder whether that opportunity would have been available in the UK with the quite rigid class system that existed 60 years ago.Contact Little Brother