Matt Lowson: Previous to starting with Stroud, my main experience was coming from a tradesman, then onto supervision, then onto management through some of the major companies, the major building companies in Southeast Queensland. And that experience taught me a lot in what not to do and what to do as well, bringing that positive experience into my own company. I just got to a point that I felt that I had to do it myself. It’s a bit similar to when you’re a teenager wanting to move out of home, you just get itchy feet. You just think, “Oh, I just need to do something different.” And you just start looking around. We’re were actually looking at a different industry. We’re were looking at commercial. Buying an existing business in commercial, and it just didn’t feel right. So, this opportunity came up and we jumped at it. We just happened to be in the right place at the right time.
My wife saw an ad on the paper, I think it was. And she responded to it. And five years later, here we are. You can’t achieve what we’ve achieved without hard work. If you come into it thinking, “This is going to be a walk in a park,” that’s not the case. Unintentionally we’ve actually really captured a niche market of Granny Flats. Granny Flats adjoined and Granny Flats unattached as well. So, we’ve just quite literally unconsciously fell into that market. No one else seems to be doing them. We do them really well, and that’s proven by the awards that we’ve got for them. So, predominantly we’re getting those awards for… It’s for the quality of the house, the times it’s taken to build, the price of them, all those factors come into the award criteria. Winning the awards over the years, and every year we’ve entered, we’ve won a minimum of two awards. So, we feel that’s a pretty good track record. It’s something that we’re striving to continue to repeat year after year after year.
There’s a huge amount of benefits, but the benefit is that, well, we’re living in a brand new house that’s in for an award and I’m pretty confident we can take that award. We would never have been able to build that house if we hadn’t have had a start out with Stroud. That was just a unrealistic possibility. So, that’s really nice to come home every night to that house that I’ve built and it’s a real showstopper. So, that’s something I’m really proud of. And we would not have been able to achieve that if we hadn’t have, hadn’t done what we did five years ago. You get that feeling of comradery and that’s really important.
So yes, there’s a lot of education involved. There’s, there’s a lot of support from head office. But what I take out of it most is I get to catch up with guys and shoot the breeze and talk rubbish, have a bit of fun with them, on the phone to them, I would say three times to four times a week. When we first started, it was just myself and my wife, Nikki. We did absolutely everything. And while it was fun, it was scary, it was daunting. It was quiet in the office. We kind of looked at each other and said, “What do we do? We don’t know what to do now?” And a bit like bringing a newborn baby home. We’d looked at it but well, we don’t know what to do with it. Let’s just figure it out as we go along. And that’s when the support for the franchisees come in. Five years later, or four and a half years later, we’ve got seven staff, I think at last count, and a full-fledged, really busy office, which is good. I walk-in in the morning. Everyone’s really happy. We’ve got a really, really positive environment in our office and something I’m proud of. It’s something that I learned from another large corporation I worked at is to have a really good culture. And that’s something that we really do pride ourselves upon. We set a lot of goals out when we first started and those goals were self-driven. We’ve achieved every single one of them to date. So, it’s come at a cost of a lot of hard work, but it’s been very, very rewarding in sitting back and actually seeing the business evolve.