Sunday, April 24, 2011

Colourful language of politics and business

Image: Tearout of this column from The Redland Times.

AUSTRALIA can probably thank a prime minister for legitimising the word "boxhead", which has found a new life promoting a Redland business.
Labor's Paul Keating has his place in history as a verbal artist who turned the nation's political debate into a fabulous collection of comic-book one-liners, and his reference to Liberal MP Wilson Tuckey as a “boxhead” is still celebrated as classic Keating-speak.
“Boxhead” apparently started as a reference to German soldiers during or after the two world wars because of the shape of their helmets; at least, that's the view on

VARIOUS online dictionaries say the slang term later came to mean “a stupid person”, the Oxford, claiming to produce “the world's most trusted dictionaries”, still doesn't recognise Keating's authority in using it and seems to consider it unworthy of a definition.
All this was of no concern to Bayside Removals' Steve Rae when he wrote his Trade Services notice, saying: “Don't be a boxhead. Call Bayside Removals instead. We'll do it all for you.”
The artwork with a photograph of a couple wearing cartons over their heads backs up the theme.
Steve didn't need to consult Paul Keating or any dictionary when choosing the wording to get his message across and promise “no gimmicks – just the best rate and quality service”.

STEVE was relaxing on a houseboat on the Gold Coast yesterday during a welcome break from his demanding occupation as Bayside Removals manager.
He has left the management of the firm's fleet of five trucks in the capable hands of sales manager Craig Iselin.
Craig said the exceptional work by three Bayside Removals staff members during the January floods had been a talking point.
The trio had used their semi-trailer to get through the flood at Sherwood and Graceville to evacuate residents and save some property.
A metropolitan newspaper had reported how they had rescued an elderly man who had been swept into the fast-moving current and had clung to a post to save himself from drowning.

CRAIG said the efforts of the three, identified just as Andrew, Wazza and Justin, would be long remembered in the company history.
Bayside Removals not only services the greater Brisbane region but also operates interstate and to other parts of Queensland.

Thanks for joining me to meet the people in the marvellous community of classified advertising.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Loss of furniture after flood breaks heart

Image: that's your humble scribe trying to restore an old silky old robe.

THE heartbreak of the January floods was plainly evident to Redland furniture expert Gavin Hodges as he watched the massive clean-up. Gavin says he was close to tears as solid old furniture was trashed. “A lot of it could have been restored,” he says. “After the 1974 floods the good items could be salvaged but this time it was all crushed by heavy machinery. “It was terrible; a whole era of quality furniture has been lost forever.”

GAVIN has a keen eye for quality furniture, thanks to a lifelong passion and a lot of training. The son of Laidley small crop and flower growers, Les and Betty Hodges, Gavin moved to Wellington Point with his family when he was six years old. He did an apprenticeship in french polishing at a Capalaba workshop specialising in pianos and antiques, and opened his own business, Bayside Quality Furniture Restorations, about 30 years ago.

THE firm, which Gavin operates in partnership with his wife Noela, has a showroom in Shore Street, Cleveland, just two doors from its workshop, and employs about 10 staff Gavin is delighted his son Mitchell, 22, shares the family's interest in furniture. Mitchell has completed an apprenticeship in french polishing, antiques and restoration. Bayside Quality Furniture Restorations found great benefit from the opening of the showroom about 10 years ago, putting some grand pieces on exhibition in air-conditioned premises, Gavin says. He has focused on developing not only a complete restoration service, including upholstery, but also on custom building of all types of furniture. Clients have commisioned the firm for special cabinet and lounge designs. They can choose the upholstery material from a wide range on display in the showroom.

THE firm's major projects in recent years have included the restoration of furniture in the historic colonial residence Whepstead Manor. The project demanded a fine eye for detail because, as Redland Tourism notes, the building of Whepstead was initiated by Gilbert Burnett, manager for Captain Louis Hope, who was the father of Queensland’s sugar industry. Whepstead, originally known as Fernbourne, was completed in 1889 and has a floor area covering 150 square metres over two levels with an attic. No story about old furniture would complete without a reference to that fabulous timber species, the silky oak, which seems to be getting rarer. Gavin says the silky oak is one of the main timbers in his restoration projects, along with other Queensland timbers such as maple and red cedar.

Thanks for joining me to meet the great people in the marvellous community of classified advertising. This column has appeared in The Redland Times.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

From UK mainframes to Redland pcs

Image from

THE prospect of a new life in sunny Queensland looked good when computer programmer Carl Harbinson and his architect wife Sangeeta tired of the pressures of London. Six years later, Carl says they yearned for quality of life and they found it in Redland City. Carl and Sangeeta are also building a business, Computer Troubleshooters Redland, with a service centre in Shore Street West, Cleveland. The firm marks a new era of independence for Carl, who started his computing career in the corporate mainframe environment, programming the batteries that backed up the power supply.

AFTER much experience with telecommunications companies in the UK, he worked with several in Australia before setting up his own business about three years ago. Sangeeta, having a break from her profession, has a management/administrative role which Carl describes in computing jargon as the "back end". Computer Troubleshooters' notice asks a question that hits the spot for most home computer users and undoubtedly a lot of businesses. "Tearing your hair out with frustration?" Readers may wonder if a toupe features in the picture that accompanies this column because computing failures of various types are not like lightning: they may strike in the same place, time and again.

THE gut-churning terror of a crash has again turned my writing schedule upside down, and I only have myself to blame for not backing up a lot of important files. Luckily I have clawed my way back into operation but appear to have lost the contacts I have made through Classie Corner over the years. Anyone who has featured in the column - particularly business operators -is invited to send me an update on their activities. That way, I'll rebuild my address book and can use the information in future columns to keep the readership in touch. The address is

BACK to Carl: He has been busy upgrading the computers of many home users. "There has been a lot of uncertainty about the future and many people are trying to eke out the life of their computers as long a possible, upgrading the memory and the CPU, rather than buying new computers," he says. Carl says he recently completed a major project for a business, overcoming server issues with MYOB to save the client substantially on user costs. But, away from the keyboards, screens and workbench, he says his great satisfaction in life is finding the right environment to bring up their children, Kieran, 11, and Jasmine, 6.

Thanks for joining me to meet the great people in the marvellous community of classified advertising. This column has appeared in
The Redland Times.

'Monster' freeway sweeper heads for Redland base

EXCITEMENT is building at the Redland base of a company that has been helping to replace the plain old-fashioned broom with a set of high-tech cleaning machines. The small team at Sweepers Pty Ltd's Enterprise Street, Cleveland, headquarters is gearing up for the impending launch of two new products that managing director Mark Scull describes as breakthroughs for the cleaning industry. Mark and his wife Roz set up Sweepers at Lytton about 12 years ago and moved the operation to Cleveland about four years later.

SWEEPERS sells and hires out commercial and industrial cleaning equipment, such as vacuums, scrubbers and sweepers to clients throughout Australia. The firm also runs a contracting division, Wombat Sweepers. Mark expects the new products to find a national market. "One is designed to pick up debris from freeways, travelling at 80 kilometres per hour," he says. "It will pick up a 20-litre drum or a tyre. The removal of this sort of debris freeways has been a problem. I searched for this type of machine for about 10 years and finally found a guy who was developing one in the United States."

THE other product is a new type of cleaning device for rough surfaces. Mark says traditional practice has been to use one scrubber to remove the rubble and another high-pressure water cleaner to complete the job. However, his new US-made device will complete both tasks and recycle the water, minimising waste.

A POSITIONS Vacant notice gave an indication of increasing activity at Sweepers. Mark and Roz advertised for a "computer geek ... experienced in building and maintaining websites". Mark says the websites ( and have a vital role in keeping Sweepers on the industry's cutting edge, so the geek position is important. About a dozen computer experts applied over two days. Mark says the couple has employed a highly experienced website expert with briefs including search engine optimisation.

WHILE the new products warrant some heavy promotion, Sweepers has a long list of products in 15 categories, ranging from small single-disc scrubbers and leaf and litter vacuums to ride-on scrubbers, road sweepers and garbage compactors. Cleanaway's Townsville branch supervisor Allan Mott has praised Sweepers for its support of his branch's four sweepers and another the company operates at Mount Isa Mines. "The heavy industrial sweeping we contracted to do around the Port of Townsville is EPA monitored and has to be of a high standard with low dust emissions," Allan says. "The ability of the sweeper to sweep and contain the fine metal dust particles such as copper dust, zinc and lead is a job that is required to be constantly done whilst ships are loading."

Thanks for joining me to meet the people in the marvellous community of classified advertising. This column has appeared in The Redland Times.

Ageing and the jigsaw of life

THE right to privacy dictates that the subjects of today's Classie Corner are not identified; this Redland family is in the grip of one of modern society's cruellest health problems. The authorities say 1.5 million Australians have dementia but the knowledge “you are not alone” doesn't make life any easier for those who cope with an illness that steals the personality of their loved ones. Sue, of Ormiston, noticed early symptoms in her mother, we'll call her “Louise”, about three years ago.

THEN aged in her early eighties, enjoying her painting and crafts, and living happily with her husband of almost six decades in their Cleveland retirement unit, Louise had memory lapses. “She would be unable to find things and would put things where nobody else could find them,” Sue recalls. “Gradually she lost her sense of time and place, and her ability to manage everyday life. She would get mixed up on the time of day and be unable to tell whether she would have breakfast, lunch or dinner. Her forgetfulness led to dangers and we had to take away appliances that could cause problems.”

ABOUT one year ago, a gerontologist diagnosed Alzheimer's disease but Sue says her mum could keep living in the unit, with support from community agency PresCare and the day respite centre Killara Place. Sue says her parents both caught pneumonia last month and it became clear that they could no longer live independently. Louise is now a patient at Redland Residential Care, Weippin St, Cleveland; Sue and her husband are rearranging their house to accommodate her dad. The aged care facility is part of the Redland Hospital complex. The caring attitudes of the staff have impressed Sue, who visits her mum almost every day.

SUE found that her mum, who kept busy with art and crafts for many years, has developed a liking for jigsaw puzzles. "She started with a 40-piece puzzle and I think she could handle up to 100 pieces but not the big 500-piece puzzles," Sue says. Sue has trouble sourcing suitable puzzles, so placed a “wanted” notice seeking those designed for children aged four to six; she specified "no missing pieces".

MOST puzzles in the category feature children's or cartoon themes; simple puzzles showing landscapes or other scenes suitable for a senior are rare, Sue says. After Louise has solved the jigsaws, they join the centre's collection so other dementia patients can also enjoy them. It seems donations of jigaw puzzles to aged care facilities such as Redland Residential Care would meet a need.

Thanks for joining me to meet the people in the marvellous community of classified advertising. This column has appeared in The Redland Times. Image from

Property success grows on Fruit trees

BRIGHT green and orange corporate colours grabbed attention in the Positions Vacant pages this month when Fruit Property Redland City advertised for sales staff. The recruitment drive has heralded a milestone at the Middle Street, Cleveland, agency that business partners Craig Yarrow and Sharon Saul set up five years ago. May 15 will be the fifth anniversary at the office, which began as part of the Raine and Horne group but became a Fruit franchise in September 2009. Sharon says the business had a staff of just four when it began but now has 10, working on sales, administration and property management.

THE Fruit group, using the slogan "Property with passion", started in Victoria, aiming to demonstrate "a fresh look at real estate". Such a theme, using the image of fresh produce seems to be a natural for the Redlands because of its heritage in horticulture. However, Sharon says the modern approach that Fruit founder Craig Bellgrove expounded, with emphasis on care for all clients, vendors and buyers, impressed the Redland partners. A simple gesture in providing apples in promotional packs at property inspections underscores the group's principles but the ethos does go deeper.

THE founder says the group has built "a culture of authenticity and contribution, with a real 'walk the talk' flavour and identified a shared values base that supports a terrific experience for our clients". "I believe an organisation should have a heart and a reason for existing beyond just the financial equations," Craig says. He urges Fruit representatives to actively listen and accurately hear and sense another's thoughts and feelings. The Redland agency invited applicants to "bring a great attitude and a passion to succeed" and promised a comprehensive support system for sales people to pursue a career path in property.

SHARON says the agency's weekly fruit bill has been growing with a marked increase in buyer activity in the market and more attending open-house inspections. She is unsure of the reasons behind the activity but confidence seems to be returning to what is still a 'buyer's market'. The trend points to an upbeat celebration to mark the May anniversary.

This column has appeared in The Redland Times.

Friend departs, chilly relatives arrive

THE changing of the guard in nature's march toward the winter always makes me sad. While the door's open during a warm farewell to the great friend called Summer, some chilly old relatives, Aunty Autumn and Uncle Winter, sneak past and unpack their suitcases for an extended stay. The promise of springtime glory may be the only way to handle the suffering of the months ahead. I am not alone in already thinking about spring 2011 in Redland City; it creates some top-of-mind issues for the band of volunteers who now start the countdown to the city's annual spring festival. Their excitement will build quickly after the annual general meeting of Redland Spring Festival Inc at Cleveland Showgrounds at 6.30pm on Tuesday, March 15.

JOANNE Millard, in her second year as festival manager, is confident this year's festival will be the best in the event's 53-year history. Now also carrying the modernised tag as "Redfest", the spring festival started as the Redlands Strawberry Festival. Joanne says 18,000 people enjoyed the festival program over its two and half days last spring. The size and diversity of the festival, including art, music, a multitude of displays, a wide range of food and an acclaimed children's carnival, creates a lot of work for an army of about 300 volunteers. At the head of the structure is a committee, which will be up for election at the AGM. Joanne says the committee has 10 to 12 members, who typically reflect sectors of community involvement such as arts, entertainment. She says president Bruce Smith has nominated for another term; one of Bruce's achievements was to enlist Olympians to feature at the 2010 festival, and more such VIP guests are on the cards for 2011.

"THE reason for the festival is to benefit the community and it is a constant challenge to raise the funds to hold it," Joanne says. "We get support from sponsors and grants because the gate takings do not cover the costs. "At some stage in the past the council ran the festival, and many people believe this is still the case, but it has long been independently run." Joanne, a stained glass artist, has lived in Redland for the past 10 years after she migrated from New Zealand in 1979 and lived in Western Australia and New South Wales on her way to Queensland. She says she festival is a great showpiece for the wonderful city that is now her home. Mark your calendar: The festival dates are September 9-11. Anyone wanting to contribute is welcome at the AGM. Readers can check at for updates.

Thanks for joining me to meet the great people in the marvellous community of classified advertising. This column has appeared in The Redland Times.