SUCCESS STORIES: Meet 16 of Dalby’s top business owners
IT IS thanks to the many hardworking and innovative business owners across Dalby for the town’s strong economy and retail sector.
These people have worked countless hours to develop their business into the successes they are today.
Here are 16 of Dalby’s most successful and well-known business owners and managers:
MR MURPHY has been at the helm of Brumby’s for eight years as the owner, but got his start as the manager five years prior.
The 37-year-old has kept an entrepreneurial mindset throughout his life and is always looking for ways to keep himself busy.
“I like the challenge and obviously because when I first started out, I started buying residential properties,” he said.
“Once you get in that cycle you tend to have to keep it rolling.”
Running both Brumby’s and Michel’s Patisserie gives Mr Murphy an opportunity to serve customers in two different but equally important ways.
“It was a big part of why I bought Michel’s because with Brumby’s it’s takeaway customer service but with Michel’s you have the added benefit of sit-in,” he said.
One of the biggest parts of his job is working with his young staff and giving them valuable skills for the future.
“Working with youth and young people is something I’m passionate about,” Mr Murphy said.
“I’ve had the joy of the first time learning the ropes from someone for years while I was an apprentice.
“They leave knowing how to run a shift.
“It lets them step straight into a job and they know they can do that.”
HE’S BEEN the friendly face in front of Stellarossa treating Dalby to a morning coffee for over 5 years.
And although he’s looking to sell the business, he said it has been a rewarding five years.
“We opened three days before mother’s day, so it was a very huge weekend,” he said.
“When we did Stellarossa, there was a need for another coffee shop and we saw that need because we were always getting coffees - spending up to $3000 a year.”
But it’s not just the “free” coffee that keeps Nev on his feet, but the customer service as well.
He has run at least three businesses since moving to Dalby 30 years ago, including a video shop near The Russell and a Kodak store.
The highlight of Mr Volker’s time at Kodak was listening to the saddening stories of people during the 2011 floods and being able to restore photos for them.
It’s this experience that he hopes will lead him down a new path in the future.
“I’d like to become a mortician,” he said.
“We used to experience that kind of thing at Kodak because people would lose family members and they’d get photos done for the casket and stuff.
“I believe that’ll be my next step.”
Either that, or he’s considering owning a motel.
Mr Volker has always been a strong-willed person, but at the age of 61 and having gone through a kidney transplant just before owning Stellarossa, means that he’s needing to wind back a bit.
“If someone came along with a big briefcase full of cash…?”
FROM Forbes Realty to 1 Property Centre, Mr Forbes has made his mark on the Dalby community as one of the most well-known real estate agents since 2008.
“I operated under my own name when I started, it was Forbes Realty,” he said.
“I worked all remotely and I just did sales when I started out.
“A couple of years went by and I realised I needed a rental outfit as part of the business.”
After forming a partnership with rentals licensee Mark Vadasz, they rebranded to 1 Property Centre in 2018.
“The last name was meaning less and less and we wanted something more universal,” Mr Forbes said.
His father was a real estate agent and although that put him off from entering the profession initially, it gave him some childhood experience with it.
“I guess I tried to avoid the vocation for some time because my father was a real estate agent and a lot of times you don’t tend to go off doing what my parents do,” Mr Forbes said.
“I’d done a bit of buying and selling real estate myself personally.”
Mr Forbes’ passion stems from the need for everyone to have a roof over their head and being able to serve a strong community like Dalby.
“Dalby’s a strong town – always has been and always will be,” he said.
“It’s got a lot of industry; it’s got a lot of farming.”
Bruce and Craig White
WHITE Industries has been manufacturing products that can be found throughout the world since 1960.
Craig has been the CEO for 3 years now while Bruce runs White Property Group.
For Craig, the business has been all he’s ever known.
“I left school at the end of 1988 to work for Dad and progress through all departments in manufacturing side of the business, went into sales and eventually became the CEO,” he said.
Bruce left school in 1991 and joined the business alongside his brother.
But they owe the success of White Industries to their father Bob.
“He’s the guy who started from nothing,” Bruce said.
“Dad started the business in 1960 and he retired in 1998.”
The key to White Industries’ success is their ability to keep adapting to the times and manufacture things that are in demand depending on the current economic situation.
“We keep re-emerging and reinventing ourselves with different products,” Craig said.
“Product goes all over the world, but our customers are Australian based customers who will then export themselves.”
“What’s made us survive is we’ve making different things from booms to busts,” Bruce said.
“We’ve seen plenty of foundries fall over in the past 30 years because technology got out of reach.”
They also thank their success to the approximately 55 staff they have working for them, and all staff know that adapting to the times is a non-negotiable.
“We make castings now that Dad never thought we’d make,” Bruce said.
Robert and Elisha Beil
ROBERT and Elisha Beil have been at the helm of Southside Quality Meats since March 2003 and have faced many highs and lows throughout their time there.
“We’re a booming little business with the mines leaving town and the roadworks and the floods,” Mr Beil said.
“You can’t give up, can you?
“You can’t throw up your hands and say ‘nup’.”
The biggest challenge that has faced the business to date was the Warrego Highway upgrade that took place during 2018.
As a result, they opened up Butcher’s Pantry Coffee & Takeaway to compensate for the loss of roadside parking spaces.
“Since the pantry has become so successful I have found new-found passion,” Mrs Beil said.
“We love the support that Dalby’s giving us.”
Mr Beil said they wouldn’t still be here if it weren’t for Butchers Pantry.
Beside the struggles, the couple have had some great times working at Southside and know most of their customers by name.
“Our customers are our friends,” Mrs Beil said.
“We love the support that Dalby’s giving us.”
SHE is the face behind one of Dalby’s most exotic cafes and has spent the past three years transforming an old Queenslander into a fabulous meeting spot.
“I’ve been here since we’ve opened,” she said.
“We had young kids and we were looking for a place to bring our kids to, let the kids play as well.
“My sister bought this house, her and her husband, and the rest is history.”
Mrs Harms was inspired by many cafes from around Toowoomba such as The Cafe at Abbie Lane in Highfields.
“My sisters and I did some road tripping around,” she said.
“We loved going to Highfields with our kids, the chocolate factory and that.”
COVID-19 has been the biggest struggle for the business so far, but Mrs Harms has been excited to see her staff and customers being able to bounce back after the blow.
“We weren’t sure this year with COVID; I thought people would be keen to get out with school holidays,” she said.
“I think that everyone’s trying to look at Queensland instead of going down south.”
Urban Paddock was once the residence of Bill and Hazel Flower, who formerly owned the Dalby Herald.
Chris and Doug Machin
THE Dalby Machinery Centre is one of the town’s great family success stories.
Chris Machin owns the business alongside his father Doug.
“It started in 1991 by Doug and my mum Tracy, just the two of them,” Chris said.
“I would have been 20 when I started working for Dad and I’ve seen the business grow around us.”
DMC sells its products all around Australia and also across the Western Downs region.
“We get to meet different people from all parts of Australia and the world,” he said.
“We sell all around Australia and are consistently top 5 all around Queensland, including the multinationals.
“We’re fortunate that if one part of Australia isn’t doing well, we can always diversify.”
Mr Machin said it took a lot of hard work from both himself and his parents to build the business to what it is today.
“I do most of the sales and Doug does help me,” he said.
“It’s enjoyable working with family.”
Through droughts, Warrego Highway roadworks, floods and coronavirus, the business has still stood strong and continues to service the country’s mechanical needs.
DALBY Health Foods has stood on the town’s main street since 1973 and has shifted owners a few times, but it was an unusual turn of events that led Mrs Nickolls to purchase the business.
“It would’ve been about 2013 I had a horse accident and then I had to go to the emergency,” she said.
“I was in hospital bedridden for three weeks and I had 9 broken bones.
“When I went home, Mum looked after me for 6 months after that and I was in a wheelchair for several months.
“I was on a lot of medications like antidepressants and painkillers and stomach medications and it was kind of like a cycle of medications that were making things worse for my organs.”
Mrs Nickolls did not feel as if she wanted to keep taking the medications so she tried adopting a healthier lifestyle instead.
“It was actually really weird because after where I was working, I couldn’t help but pull out the front of this shop,” she said.
“I don’t know why, but I thought I wanted to buy this shop.”
Mrs Nickolls then walked into Dalby Health Foods and without really thinking about it, asked if she could buy it from the previous owner.
“I was quite surprised because I took over in April 2015, and that year we actually got young business owner of the year through the Chamber of Commerce,” she said.
“I’m glad because there has been a lot of times I’ve wanted to give up but I’m really glad I’ve stuck with it.”
The store sells over 1300 products.
Gary Briggs OAM
THE man behind Dingo and Feral Fencing has put Dalby on the map as the home of some of Australia’s greatest innovations.
For his work in manufacturing and being one of the most innovative minds in the industry, Mr Briggs awarded the Order of Australia Medal this year for his outstanding work in the manufacturing industry.
“I’ve been recognised by one of the major manufacturers in Queensland,” he said.
Mr Briggs started out as a farmer when he bought his first six-wheeler vehicle and began making them himself.
In 1991, he began hiring out Dingo mini diggers and when the company went broke during the recession, he bought the business and became the new owner of Dingo Australia.
“In my lifetime prior to that, I’d built and owned bulldozers and front end loaders as a farmer and contractor,” he said.
“I was able to rebuild the concept.
“Today, it’s the best in the world.
“It is known by everyone, including our opposition, as the leading product of its type in the world.”
Since that day, with over almost 30 years of experience, Mr Briggs has revolutionised the modern manufacturing industry and is revered by other businesses in the industry because of his quality, unique products.
“I know how to work machinery, I know what you need to make it tough whereas most people tend to be professional engineers,” he said.
Mr Briggs took Dingo overseas in 1995, and now distributes products from Australia to the United States, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and the Asia Pacific thanks to a new partnership with their exclusive distributor, Wacker Neuson.
“The most important part of business today is people,” he said.
“Look after your people because the people in Dalby district are much more loyal to their employers.”
Mr Briggs said his businesses have been his “hobby” and his “life”, and something he wouldn’t have done without a lot of hard work and passion for the industry.
“I think I’ll be here with my boots on until the day I die.”
THE young owner of the Racecourse Star Cafe at Dalby’s Puma servo has kept his family business alive despite COVID-19 and the increasing presence of larger businesses.
The 27-year-old has been involved with the cafe his whole life but has taken on the reins from his parents over the past few years.
“Our family’s been here since ‘89,” Mr Stephenson said.
“It’s always about the food, it’s always about the cafe.”
The staff know many of their customers by name and they serve homemade style food, some of which dates back to Mr Stephenson’s grandmother.
“We do rissoles, we’ve modified it a bit since then, but Nan’s rissoles,” he said.
He thinks one of the biggest advantages of having a small business is the flexibility and ability to try out new things on a whim.
“The best thing we’ve got, at the drop of a hat, we could try something out, but a big company can’t,” he said.
“Like all of us, we all make mistakes and my attitude’s always been I keep stabbing in the dark until I get something that might take off.”
Mr Stephenson is very grateful for his parents helping build the business to what it is today.
“They’ve sacrificed a hell of a lot to have what I’ve got.”
BRIAN Hedge has run his sports store for over 40 years and has been hard at work ever since.
The 83-year-old opened the store in 1974 then bought the store on the corner of Cunningham and New Streets in 1981.
“We’re a pretty good shop,” he said.
“The general public seem to have a good association with us.”
Hedge’s Sports Store did not close down during the COVID-19 lockdown and continued to fix bikes and sell products, while maintaining a decent income.
“I did a survey for the COVID stuff, for the handing out of the money, the previous 12 months before COVID came along our sales were down 30-35% from normal,” he said.
“That part of the equation’s been pretty good, but not sure what’s going to happen for the next three months.”
But the store has faced a decline in interest from local sports clubs after they decided to source their equipment from elsewhere.
“A lot of the sporting clubs don’t support us anymore,” Mr Hedge said.
“That’s made business pretty difficult in town.”
The store owns all of its merchandise and the shop so maintenance costs are fairly low.
MR O’SHEA’S parents started his family business on the year he was born and it’s been a part of him since day one.
Mr O’Shea has always believed that successful businesses look after their customers and find the best ways to serve them.
“We’re doing now what we’ve always done; it’s about providing excellent customer service,” he said.
“This is why we’ve been so successful in the past and why we’re still here today.
“Our customers return to us because they trust us.”
But it’s also the staff of Bi-Rite that make the business what it is.
“We’ve got experience here from Tony Hunt and Kevin Lindsay sales team and previous managers of electrical,” Mr O’Shea said.
“We feel obliged to give the benefit of our experience to the customer.”
He also runs a music store as part of the business and holds lessons for people wanting to learn guitar.
MR FOUNTAIN is an engineer by trade but saw an opportunity with digital technology in the early 1990s.
The owner of Leading Edge Computers has been selling, repairing and servicing the town’s technology since 1990.
“We started up out at Loudoun Road,” he said.
“We had a computer business and my father had a fitting and turning machine shop business.
“We basically combined the two to share the administrative costs.”
Leading Edge is now located on Cunningham Street and has been since 1999.
“We started out like most small businesses with minimal finances,” he said.
“You just got to be very, very careful how you spend your money.”
They have experienced peaks and troughs with finances depending on the strength of the local agriculture industry, meaning that 2019 was their worst year on record.
But due to COVID-19 lockdowns, things have started to pick back up because of an increased demand for digital technology.
“June was very much up on what it was last year just because of having a bit of rain,” he said.
“This year has been much like it used to be back 6-7 years ago.”
Being a technology company, Leading Edge has seen dramatic changes to the industry over the past 30 years.
“When we started it was MS-DOS and computers that their main operating system was BASIC,” the owner said.
“Adaptation is the secret to staying in business; nothing stays the same.”
Like many small business owners, Mr Fountain sees the need for the community to support local shops.
“It’s the local business that keep the town running, it’s the local businesses that provide jobs for their kids, it’s the local businesses that support all the community clubs and other services so we wouldn’t be much of a local community if it weren’t for the local businesses.”
IF ANYONE in Dalby has an entrepreneurial view on life, it would have to be Hamey Hayllor.
Hailing from Brisbane, Mrs Hayllor has never worked for a boss in her life and has experience running a nationwide babysitting business.
When she moved to Dalby, she started a boxing class as a way to meet the community but it soon evolved into a full-scale gym.
“Physical fix has been running for five years in October and prior to that, two years,” she said.
“Fitness is for everyone, we’re a really big believer of that here.”
Hamey wanted to focus on flexibility, given the schedules of the gym members.
“We have FIFO workers that come at 3-4am and at 9pm onwards,” she said.
Since one of the biggest problems facing gymgoers is a lack of motivation, Mrs Hayllor made her gym easily accessible and convenient.
As with most gyms, it is available 24/7 but there is also a supplement shop so members don’t have to get their products from Toowoomba.
Physical Fix has also run many charitable programs such as delivering hampers to crisis support earlier in the year.
“We’re really a family and a community – we know all our members very well.”
HE IS Dalby’s most recognisable bus driver having run Yaralla Buses since 2011.
Before that, Mr Morris drove buses part-time for various companies before starting his business and making it a career.
“I’ve got a good clientele base and it’s always expanding,” he said.
“We actually started the business 2011 when we bought the purple bus.”
It didn’t take much work for him to learn to drive a bus because he grew up driving trucks on his family’s farm.
But as with any skill, he has learnt a lot about driving over the years.
“I can switch off and I can hear what the bus is doing over the top of the noise, but that’s just come from years of experience,” he said.
“You can just hear it through vibrations or gauges or anything if something’s gone wrong.”
It’s not just school runs that Yaralla Buses make, but also trips interstate for race meets, cancer fundraisers and pretty much anything that the Dalby community wants a charter for.
Although he’s had some long and tedious drives in the past, Mr Morris usually enjoys most of his trips.
“You look back to the good times and that’s why you keep going,” he said.
THE man behind Woodlands Mechanical has been at it for a little over nine years now.
Mr Rockliff started the business to help service and repair agricultural machinery from Dalby and surrounds and his wife Carly helps with administration.
“Machines have to keep going so that’s what kept us busy,” he said.
“I can go out and design and manufacture complex parts for a custom use in agriculture so modifying platers and seater bins and the like.”
Working in mining and gas wasn’t enjoyable for Mr Rockliff so he went into agricultural machinery and hasn’t looked back since.
And the inspiration for his business’ name came from the family farm he grew up on near Wagga Wagga.
“My family farm in Wagga Wagga was ‘Woodlands’ so I just took on Woodlands and put it on the mechanical – kept the family name running,” he said.
Mr Rockliff has always wanted to start his own business and he enjoys being his own boss and being able to stay with his family while he works.
The key to Woodlands’ success is Mr Rockliff’s passion for his trade.
“If you don’t love it, obviously don’t do it,” he said.
“That’s a big problem I see nowadays – people get into a situation where they don’t love it and they lost interest.”
One of the tips he has for budding business owners is to make sure a quality accountant is able to help set up the finances so that there is a solid foundation.
“If I was to say anything it was to thank the Dalby community and the suppliers for supporting us through the drought and also through the good times.”