Fluff up your curls! It’s time to get to know more about Lumpy. Jeff and Jenny Rodick are celebrating a big 12 months, culminating in being declared “MidCoast Business of the Year” at this year’s MidCoast Business Awards.
Jeff, Jenny … tell us about life prior to Lumpy’s?
Jeff: I lived on the Gold Coast and had a partnership in a tree lopping business before moving to Forster in 1987. I’d visited Forster the previous Xmas and was stunned by everything about this area. So, without having to think twice, I sold my share of the business, packed up the house, the dogs, the gym equipment (I had intentions to open a gym on the Gold Coast), and blazed a trail to Forster – I couldn’t get here quick enough.
In July 1987, I opened Forster’s first commercial type gym in Loftus Place. It was called The Physical Connection and was supported with great enthusiasm by locals and tourists. It was a fantastic introduction to the community, and I easily settled into this wonderful area I’m proud to call home.
The next three years – I studied to complete the Nursery Trade Certificate at Taree TAFE. Enjoyed a couple seasons of playing goalkeeper for Pacific Palms and best of all, trawled the local coast for surf.
In 1990 I sold the gym to one of my star aerobics instructors, Narelle Barnes – who today still runs a local private fitness studio.
I found myself in Sydney not long after back in the tree climbing spikes and harness, after the North Shore suffered a major storm. What was to be one month’s work ended being a three-year sojourn. It gave me time to study tree surgery and more horticulture at Ryde TAFE.
I bought the block of land in Chapmans Road (now the nursery) in 1992 then returned on Boxing day 1993. Couldn’t get back here quick enough again.
I established Lumberjack Tree Service, which grew into a considerable vegetation management business. We used to have a great ad on TV where we felled a tree on a car – everybody loved that one.
The growing business needed space and the old Austie’s Nursery site was available, which was conveniently straight across the road from home. We moved there in 2003.
In 2007, GFC struck, and we decided to sell most of the equipment and break the business up. That done, we had to lay Lumberjack to rest and searched for a new name. Jen, with a carefully considered master stroke, said let’s call it Lumpy’s! (my nickname for 40 years – another story for another time)
Jenny, you’re also not originally from Tuncurry.
No, I’m from Crescent Head and met Jeff at a function at the Tacking Point Tavern in 2000. I too developed a soft spot for Tuncurry and moved here in 2006, and the rest is history.
How big a role does family play in the business?
Jenny: Our youngest daughter, Jacquie, is now following in Jeff’s footsteps, studying at Taree TAFE, and we are looking forward to having time away from the business occasionally as Jacquie develops her skills.
If you’re not in the yard, what’s your favorite pastime and place in MidCoast?
Jeff: Maybe it’s age related, but interestingly we’ve recently found a new passion for lawn bowling and quite often can be found sneaking a couple of bowls down the greens at the Blackhead Bowling Club on a Sunday afternoon. Not as often as times past, but occasionally we get the opportunity to go for a paddle too.
So Lumpy’s has moved to a new yard. This was a long time coming, but how positive has the community taken the relocation?
Jeff: The building approval process was arduous. We had 12 months’ notice to vacate the old site, and I felt confident that a build and move transition was achievable.
Unfortunately, we found ourselves in a limbolike stranglehold with the bureaucratic process, to the point where we got our approval to start construction mid November 2016. This gave us six weeks to be off the old site. It was by far the hardest thing we have ever done.
With great support and super human effort of local trades and suppliers, especially Ditchfield Contracting, we opened on time. What was our front yard is now a fantastic ever expanding retail nursery, and our large garage became a lovely gift shop. The rear of the property was transformed from 1 acre of unused overgrown wasteland to an extremely modern bulk goods area. No more mud, no more dust.
Jenny: It’s been amazing. Our customers have given us so much support and positive feedback. We’re particularly proud of our wide pathways and shaded walkway, making it easy for customers to negotiate around, whether on foot or with a mobility aid.
What did winning “Business of the Year” mean to you?
Jenny: It was a win for our whole team, highlighting their dedication, hard work and perseverance in establishing and developing Lumpy’s as it is today.
We are also honored to be included in a list of award winning businesses for our commitment to keeping faith in the area and providing ongoing employment options for locals.
So, where to from here? What will Lumpy’s look like five years from now?
Jeff: But wait, there’s more folks! An expanded range of plants, including specialised lines such as bonsais, cactus and exotic succulents and increasing our variety of seasonable vegetables and herbs.
We’ll definitely have a café in the future and plan more shade and covered areas, so Lumpy’s can be an all-weather experience. Big plans … can’t tell you everything yet. But what I can say is every time you visit Lumpy’s, you’ll notice improvements.
What is the best part about living in the Manning-Great Lakes?
Jenny: #livinginparadise. Great climate, beautiful beaches, fabulous cafés, restaurants and clubs.
And the nicest people you’ll ever meet anywhere in the world – it really does make a difference when you are dealing with lovely people day in and day out.
Thanks Jeff and Jenny.