Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Nov 1967: Tom still keen to work

More than 60 years ago, Tom Brain set up a building supplies business that still runs in Shepparton today. He tells Rob McLean about his long involvement in the local area.

November 21, 2012 2:56pm

Tom Brain credits his competitive nature as part of his success as a Shepparton businessman.

Tom Brain set up Brain’s Building Supplies more than 60 years ago, and if he could the 81-year-old would still be working there today.

"I would love it," he said.

An innate competitive nature took Tom into the business; it made him one of Shepparton’s best golfers; and it took him to within centimetres of winning the epitome of harness racing, the Inter-Dominion. The glint that is common in the eyes of a competitor is still evident in Tom’s eyes today.

Tom completed an apprenticeship in carpentry and joinery with Keith Gale, sensing immediately that if he was to be working eight hours a day he wanted it to be "productive".

That "productive" purpose became Brain’s Building Supplies. The retail business, originally set up in Shepparton’s Mariem St, was directed at the home builder and tradesman and at one stage employed about 30 people.

Tom Brain

Reflecting on his advertisements of 45 years ago for the business, which was then in Benalla Rd, Tom said his then weekly "building special" was appreciated by tradesmen and home builders.

Demonstrating that innovation and creativity can apply to any industry, Tom designed and bulk-manufactured "Brain-Bilt" windows- which enabled builders to order house-lots of windows simply by listing the numbers associated with the types of windows they needed.

The machinations of a family business and succession has seen what was Brain’s Building Supplies become Brain’s Roofing Supplies, and Tom senior is no longer directly involved.

Tom, who puts great store in social connection, spends some of his spare time selling and delivering fresh fruit and vegetables to individuals and business-people throughout the Goulburn Valley.

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