Cola Solar knows the value of family owned business. Managing Director Tony Ruff started the business in 2010 with his brother David and nephew Mathew, and over the years his wife Kaye and three sons Jordan, Nathaniel, Caleb have also joined the team.
“With family involvement in the day-to-day running, we can keep our finger on the pulse of the business, and foster that ‘we’re all in this together’ feeling,” Kaye said.
So it’s no surprise the pleasure they are taking in their latest renewable energy project. The team is currently working on a new solar PV installation for Hume & Iser, a family owned company that has spanned 5 generations!
The business has existed in Bendigo for over 135 years, initially supplying timber and iron products to the goldfields. It was setup by William Humme and Henry Iser, who is the great grandfather of current Managing Director Stephen Iser. After Henry’s death in 1932, his children Leslie and William (Bill) took over, and later Bill’s children Leslie, Thomas, Harry (Stephen’s father who only passed away in 2014, aged 90) and Ian Sides.
The existing board of Hume & Iser comprises direct family members including Stephen (Managing Director), Christopher Iser (Chairman), Tim Iser (Company Secretary), Alastair Hope John Iser, and Tom Iser, with Stephen’s sister, Pam Miller also working in the business.
The iconic business now sells a range of products for your home, including hardware, garden, outdoor, electrical, paint and building supplies. And despite recent entry into the local market from a big player, Hume & Iser has continues to thrive. This can be put down to the strong ongoing support the business gives to the local Bendigo community, and the personalised touch customers receive when they enter the store.
“G’day Bill, how’s the family?” “Hello Jim, leg ok now?” “Sue, haven’t seen you for ages!”
While keeping the history and tradition, like all successful businesses, Hume & Iser have realised the need to modernise over the years. In 1990 they underwent a major redevelopment with new offices and a hardware and timber warehouse. In 2003 the size of this was increased in response to demand of DIY materials for the home. And in 2013, a further expansion occurred to allow for retail garden and green life products.
Now in 2017, they are making the big step to renewable energy, installing a 100kW solar PV system. Helping others has always been a big part of their mantra, and thus doing their part to help the environment was a logical progression.
Cola Solar was chosen to undertake the project, winning the tender ahead of higher profile Melbourne companies. Choosing a local Bendigo family business isn’t surprising, when you look at the similarity between both stories.
Cola Solar is excited to be working for a company with such a strong history and such a focus on family and looks forward to both parties continuing to prosper for many generations to come.
Two family-owned businesses with a rich history now working side by side
Ironically the two businesses were both featured in the same magazine, Enterprise, in February 2015, on separate articles talking about Families in Business.