Located in Carnarvon, Western Australia, Tropics Hardware has been supplying timber building supplies in rural Australia for over 20 years. Tropics Hardware is a family-owned business that was established by Allan’s parents.
Allan says, “My parents, Tony and Maria, had a small building company in the early 90s. They found that they were always being asked for building supplies so they decided to open a hardware store.”
Since it’s opening, a lot has changed for Tropics Hardware; originally a MAKIT business, the store has now moved on to operate under the Home Timber & Hardware banner. In addition to this, Tropics Hardware has seen a major store relocation.
“Tropics Hardware started off with the purchase of an old shopping centre building from Shay Gap, an iron ore town that has closed down. The building was brought down to Carnarvon and rebuilt.
“We operated in that building for at least 16 years, but we outgrew it. Now we have a new shop, a 2,700 square metre warehouse, which we built back on the block we originally operated from. We moved in there four years ago,” says Allan.
Being a small-business, employees at Tropics Hardware have to be willing to wear many hats and answer all sorts of questions. When asked what his role was at Tropics Hardware, Allan responded jestingly, “Anything and everything. I do orders, sales, deliveries, invoicing, store management, and all sorts. You name it, I do it.”
Although he is very involved in the business now, Allan actually started out his working life with Bank West. After a few years in the financial sector, he decided to return to the family business, where he has now been working for 11 years.
In those years, Allan has seen a lot of changes take place in his store, many of which have impacted Tropics Hardware’s day-to-day running. “With technological advances a lot has changed for us,” says Allan. “Ten years ago, who would have through that everything from our internet to our printers would be cordless?”
As part of the HTH Group, Tropics Hardware uses the DART computer systems.
Today, Tropics Hardware supplies Carnarvon and the Gascoyne/Pilbara area, meaning that a lot of Allan’s customers come from nearby sheep and cattle stations. “We supply them with all their building supplies – timber, tin, paint – everything,” Allan comments.
Reflecting on what is unique about operating in such a remote area of Australia, Allan says “I’ve never lived in the city, but I do know that where we are you really get to know everyone. You can definitely spot someone who isn’t a local. That means that we are pretty close knit with our customers.”
With the business now well established in the Carnarvon area, Allan is looking to the future of Tropics Hardware. “My primary focus is to keep building the business up, and to keep strengthening our relationships with suppliers and customers.”