PJ Evans celebrates 40 years in business
FORTY years is a very long time for any small business to survive, but for PJ Evans & Co it's simply the result of Peter Evans' hard work and dedication to building a business from the ground up, watching it grow and flourish into one of Central Queensland's commercial successes.
Celebrating 40 years' trading in 2015, Peter, and manager, John Ashmead, reflect on the years and the evolution of the locally owned and operated business. The unmistakable caricature of Peter's head and body perched on top of the rooftop of his building in Quay Street is a dead giveaway of the irreverent character of the man behind this successful business.
The birth of PJ Evans & Co came from a business opportunity from Peter's former work at Bradford Insulation. Peter explains, "Bradford had opened a branch office in Rockhampton, selling a wide range of thermal and acoustic insulation materials direct to the public, as well as to trade and industrial user. Six years later, Bradford decided to close many of its branches outside of Brisbane, including the Rockhampton branch."
Peter, who had managed the branch since its opening in 1969, saw the potential and viability of the operation and had faith in the future of the region. Timing couldn't have been better for Peter, who commenced business in his own name with the closure.
"PJ Evans & Co has since supplied the area with a wide range of products for the building and allied industries, including insulation materials, polythene film, suspended ceilings, bituminous products, marine fibreglass materials, concrete repair products and safety footwear, as well as cold rooms, refrigeration components and automotive air-conditioning parts and gas," Peter said.
"In the last couple of years we have taken on the agency for the shed company, Widespan, and can now offer quotes for these to the Central Queensland community."
Going the distance takes adaptability
APART from operating for 40 years in Central Queensland and the wider surrounds, one of the other astounding aspects of PJ Evans & Co is its stable location.
"We've been operating out of the same building for the entire 40 years," a proud Peter explains.
"The building has actually been around since 1894 - it's an impressive establishment. Originally when I purchased the building, the Bradford branch I managed was working out of one half, while another business rented out the other end - it was an ideal way of paying the building off. When the branch closed in 1975, I simply changed the name over the door."
As the years rolled by, Peter saw the business evolve into what it is today.
While word of mouth kept the business growing, it was also the key to survival.
"I suppose what has set us apart from some other businesses in the industry is our diversity, and knowing about the products we sell." Peter explained.
"We are able to advise the advantages of a particular product for some application, but we are also honest enough to explain its limitations."
Some things change, some stay the same
IN the fast paced world we live in, PJ Evans & Co has faced many changes through the decades.
They were one of the first businesses in Rockhampton to have a desk top computer (in 1980). Peter said another major adaptation was transferring from imperial measurements to metric.
"In terms of insulation, all our data sheets were in Fahrenheit," he said.
"A lot of our tech manuals were in Imperial, which made it challenging initially."
Peter said despite the changes, his team through the years have always been ready to take on new challenges.
"If it's worth selling, we go out of our way to know all about it and ensure we are providing something of quality to our customers."
Business on board
STANDING the test of time, PJ Evans & Co has seen Rockhampton grow over the years - and in addition has played a role in some of the projects that has helped build this city up.
Peter explains: "We provided the construction epoxy for the Neville Hewitt Bridge in 1980 and also epoxy resins and other construction material to the bridge towards Yeppen roundabout (Rockhampton end) which was erected 3 - 4 years ago now." Many buildings in the region, both domestic and commercial, have been insulated with their products.
They also supplied most of the numerous products for the community pool out at Alpha.
Peter said the business was not limited to customers in the Central Queensland region, but throughout Australia and beyond.
"In the early days of PJ Evans & Co we supplied fibreglass materials to a boat repairer in Milne Bay, Papua New Guinea," he said.
Reflecting on the past and looking to the future
PETER said he was proud to have one of the longest lasting businesses in the region.
"It hasn't been an easy ride - but we have survived the challenges," he said.
Despite being positioned down the eastern end of Quay Street, where flood waters had cut the business off for a couple of days back in 1991, and again in 2011, the business has been fortunate to have been left unscathed from rising waters.
"We were ankle deep out the front, but the floor of the building is a good deal higher than the road so none of our products were damaged," Peter reflected with relief.
"During cyclone Marcia earlier this year, we lost a bit of our roof, but fared pretty well otherwise.
John added: "I've been working here for almost 9 years and have seen the business evolve dramatically in that time."
"We will continue to do what we have always done… keep customers happy. "