A Chat With: Wonderful Father & Doting Grandfather, John

"They make a great team, and I had every confidence that they would succeed." - John

If you've visited any of our shops you'll have seen some of John's hard work first hand. Tara's dad has not only been a big part of the business behind the scenes, fitting out stores and being the go-to handyman, but he has also been one of Tara and Danny's biggest cheerleaders. 

In celebration of Father's Day we sat down with wonderful father and doting grandfather, John, to chat about family, the business and how he spends his down-time.

What does a day-in-the-life look like for you?

Now that I am ‘semi-retired’ and living the dream (haha) on my property at ‘Eaglehawk’ Eucumbene, I look forward to what each day brings! I love the ever-changing weather here, the fresh mountain air, and especially the isolation.

I have a never-ending, ongoing list of jobs/projects to do, just a few of which will give you some idea of what my day would look like:

  • Level out and form up for pouring a concrete slab in my garage, and shed, so I can actually have a level area to work on!
  • Reclad, reroof and renovate ‘The Barracks’, our residence at ‘Eaglehawk’ Eucumbene
  • Clear all the fallen trees from my kilometres of fence line, and construct new fencing
  • Continually control noxious weeds

What I am able to achieve is all dependent on the weather – if it is raining or snowing, I find myself indoor jobs, or simply relax by the fireplace! I love the distraction of having the grandchildren come to visit and stay. I really enjoy taking them for a drive around the property in the 4WD Jackeroo, and finding spots to explore looking for game trails and animals, or just walking quietly through the pristine environment and admiring the wonderful place we live!

Tell us about your hobbies.

I love playing with some of my toys (a baby bulldozer, excavator and tractor) and tidying up around my property. I enjoy chainsawing up fallen timber, splitting the firewood, and building up a stockpile for upcoming snowy winters! I have always enjoyed building stuff or fixing things that are broken, just for the self satisfaction of saving or reusing.

I have always had a love for working with timber, and quite a few years ago I bought an old timber saw mill that has come in really handy for slicing up logs on the property for use as timber shelving in all our shop fitouts. More recently I purchased a horizontal bandsaw for milling timber – I have yet to take it out of the crate and set it up in my shed at Eucumbene! So many projects and planned activities to look forward to!

What did you think when Tara and Danny said they wanted to start a business?

When Tara and Danny said they wanted to start a business, it was probably one of the most exciting times ever! Claudia and I were supportive right from the start, even taking part in the ‘sliding doors’ moment of evaluating the possibilities of buying the pizza shop as a business – it didn’t take Tara long to realise her passion was in visualising the interior styling and fitout of the shop, not actually making pizzas!

I have been in business for myself for over 30 years, so I knew there would be some challenging times ahead, but was very happy for Tara and Danny to be able to get out of their 9-5 jobs, taking full advantage of being able to use their combined creative talents and create something amazing of their own! They make a great team, and I had every confidence that they would succeed.

How has being involved in the business built your relationship with both Tara and Danny?

I have always felt that I had a good understanding of, and very close bond with Tara – working alongside her in this business has cemented and strengthened our relationship further. She has many similar characteristics to me, and Claudia is always saying how alike we are – she has an exceptional eye for detail, and is quite the perfectionist. I can relate to her vision and ideas when it comes to refurbishing a new store, and it has given me some great opportunities to be very creative in the building works involved.

Being involved in the business has definitely brought about a closer relationship with Danny than a normal father / son in law association would have. I have learnt a lot from Danny – he is exceptionally creative and talented, and has a very balanced and detailed approach to his decision-making process. We have all worked really well together as a team, each with our roles to play, complementing and playing on our individual strengths.

What's the best part about being so involved in the business with your kids?

As a parent, my main priority has always been family, and holding the family unit together. Both Claudia and I have always tried to build the foundation for our kids to achieve and excel…I truly believe that a tight family foundation is the basis for any success in life, be that in working or personal life.  

I consider the opportunity of being involved in the business with my family is the ultimate privilege. I sincerely hope that our involvement has strengthened the family foundation, and that the kids can see and understand this was our aim, and continue on this tradition with their own family.

What's the best gift you've ever received? 

I’d like to mention 2 gifts I remember receiving that I thought were the best ever! When I was growing up, my family did not have a lot of money, and there were 5 children. I remember how excited and thrilled I was to receive a ‘new’ bike for my 9th birthday, that my oldest brother (Robert) had rescued from the tip, and had spent days sanding back and repainting, repairing and making like new! A bike of my own to ride wherever I wanted… A couple of years later, I rode from Ingleburn to Punchbowl (and back) to visit my older sister, Janice! I would never have let my own children do something like that, and now that also applies to my grandchildren!

Just before my 18th birthday, Mum & Dad went all out (after coming into a bit of money from subdividing the family farm), and bought me a new V8 Holden HQ Panel Van – I was set!  

What's the best gift you've ever given?

I’m not really all that good at thinking of gifts to give (generally as I just don’t seem to find the time – but that’s not a good excuse!), but Claudia reminded me of a gift I gave her that she will never forget. It was for her 40th birthday, so I actually organised and paid for a surprise birthday party to be held at a local restaurant in Huskisson, with about 20 of our friends to come along to celebrate and surprise her! You have no idea how difficult it was to actually coax Claudia to come out for dinner that night – she had been gardening all day, and didn’t feel like making the effort to go out at all! As we were parking near the venue, she mentioned that she had noticed several of our friends cars parked there also, and walking into the restaurant she commented on how many of our friends happened to be there – the penny finally dropped! I then surprised her even further with a luxury weekend away in an apartment in The Rocks in Sydney, and tickets to see the live show ‘Miss Saigon’. I really outdid myself with that gift for Claudia’s 40th, and have never come anywhere near that calibre again!

Tell me about the three best decisions you've ever made.

There are so many decisions I have made in life, but to narrow it down to 3…

  1. Marrying Claudia was the best decision I ever made – building our life together and having a family.
  2. Moving to Jervis Bay and the south coast of NSW; and later buying my idyllic getaway property ‘Eaglehawk’ Eucumbene, where I am now!
  3. Starting my own building business, over 30 years ago.

If you could give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?

I have no regrets with the decisions I have made along the way, and I wouldn’t change a thing – I am where I am today, and am the person I am today, based on decisions made, lessons learned, challenges faced and experiences gained. I know I always used to advise the younger guys in the building trade, that they needed to learn as much as they could, as fast as they could, be honest, trustworthy and reliable, and not to worry about the money – that would definitely follow (if they took my advice!).

Another piece of advice I always gave my children, is the importance of communication in a relationship, and always making sure their relationship came first!

Tell us your funniest memory of Tara and Danny.

This isn’t a funny memory really, but explains how Tara got the nickname ‘Chucky’… On one of their round the world trips for inspiration to design their upcoming ranges of surfwear, Tara’s drink was spiked when they were out one evening, resulting in her being sick all night. The very caring Danny took it upon himself to clean up after her, and make sure she was OK. On returning home, Tara was given the nickname ‘Chucky’!

I remember when Danny called Claudia and myself up to find out if he could come and talk to us (whilst Tara was away somewhere) – we wondered whether he was going to hit us up for a loan, but it was our daughter’s hand in marriage that he was after! What an honourable man he was/is!