Many readers tell us they enjoy our Q&A with a local hinterland business, so this month it’s time for Mark and Andrea Porter, owners of Maleny Hardware and Rural Supplies, to be in the spotlight! 

  1. Where did you grow up?

Mark  – I grew up in Tayport, a small village in Scotland on the North Sea which spawned a love of fishing and a career in Marine Biology and Aquaculture. For the next ten years I worked between Scotland, Norway and Spain on Atlantic salmon, cod and sea bass. In 2000 I moved to Tasmania to lecture and work with the growing fish farming industry.

Andrea – I am a Queenslander through and through. Growing up in Brisbane, I only moved away when Mark and I moved to Tasmania for work and to raise our young family.

  1. What made you move to the hinterland? 

Mark – During our time in Queensland we both spent a lot of time on the Sunshine Coast and Currimundi in particular. Our goal was to retire to the Sunny Coast, however after 14 months doing a big lap of  Australia in a 4WD and camper trailer we decided to settle in the hinterland and have put down roots in Conondale which we love, and the children have now settled into the Conondale School which has been fantastic. 

  1. How long have you been running Maleny Hardware and Rural Supplies? And what did you do before this?

Mark – It’s now been two months since we bought the business from John Jeffrey. Since then we have been trying hard to give the store a bit of a makeover. We have also been working hard to review prices and ensure we are competitive, although with 20,000 products it takes time and we hope to be completed early in the new year. We are also working on extending our range of plants and ornamental pots and our new garden centre area will be open in January. 

Andrea – Neither of us have a background in retail, however, Mark has a business background and was CEO for one of the Tasmanian salmon companies before we started travelling. He also has an aquaculture consulting business and we have a small farm in Conondale, so we understand rural needs. I was in administration working for a legal firm in Brisbane CBD before taking time off to raise our young children.

4.       Do you have any funny/unusual stories from your work?

Andrea – We have an eclectic range of customers through the shop and a range of furry friends as well. The girls from Maleny Dairy recently brought ‘Survivor’, the week-old lamb, into the store to get his bag of lamb milk replacer, which was a great crowd pleaser and an opportunity for a photo shoot! 

We also have an amazing number of people who come to the desk and ask for “do you have a thingy”, luckily, we stock a wide range of thingys in all sizes and can always help!

5.       What do you enjoy the most about your business?  

Mark – Meeting the locals and it’s always rewarding when you can solve people’s problems and needs. In a very short time, we have got to know a huge number of people and businesses who have wished us well and welcomed us to the Maleny community.

 6.     What does a ‘typical’ day entail for you?

Andrea – At this time of year our day usually starts at just after 4am when we feed our animals (goats, sheep, pigs and murray grey poddys) and then take our German Shepherd dog for a walk through the paddocks to check the cattle troughs and droughtmasters. The store opens at 7.30am so we need to be away from the house by 6.45am. The day is always busy and as we are expanding our product range and reviewing current prices, it’s 5.30pm before we know it! Back home we feed the children and animals before catching up on the day’s admin and orders before collapsing into bed around 10pm. It’s seven days a week at the moment, but we are loving it.

7.       If you had to share any advice connected to your business, what would it be? 

Mark – It’s always better to be proactive rather than reactive, whether its gearing up for the fire season or combatting ticks and buffalo flies. While we always try to hold sufficient stock, you can bet that if you need a seasonal product so do numerous others. Ask us in advance or if we don’t have a product in stock, we will try to get it for you as soon as possible!

Maleny Hardware and Rural Supplies are located in 31 Coral Street, Maleny. Phone: 5494 2302.