IT all started with a single furniture van in Warrnambool, and now Frank Ryan's trucks deliver food and building materials across Australia.
His business Ryans Group this year opened depots in Adelaide and Brisbane, a change Frank's son Graham Ryan compared to moving from a regional league to play in the AFL.
"You are always trying to grow and we have grown into that next level," Graham said.
Every week day, Frank, 88, still comes into the Warrnambool office where about a dozen staff find him fixing potholes, making them coffee, or reminding them what's out of order.
"There is always something to do," he said.
Frank said a job opportunity to do furniture deliveries for a Warrnambool store led him buy his first van in the 1950s.
"Then they said 'why don't you go to Melbourne and get our new furniture'. So I got a bigger van and went, I didn't know where Melbourne was," he said.
"Next thing we are buying a semi, and it went from one semi to more semis. We started with Woolworths, we have been with them for more than 50 years. We are now doing their freight from state to state."
The business now has 70 trucks and also transports piping, plasterboard, toilet paper and tissues for major companies. It uses Warrnambool suppliers for repair and maintenance, tyre supplies and general needs.
Frank said he chose to continue to work in the business because it "was nice to know what's going on".
"If the phone rings at 11 o'clock at night, you've got to answer that phone," he said.
"If you can't get off your bum and do the job you won't survive."
Graham said the business was successful because the family was willing to meet with potential contractors themselves.
"I never trained as a businessman, but they like to hear it from a person. And that's why we're in those big places," he said.
But Graham said the business' success came down to its staff, both past and present.
"Like any business we have had our tough times. You go through your highs and lows," he said.
"We owe a lot to Warrnambool. Previous staff got us to where we are today. We have had staff here since they were 14 until they were retired. We wouldn't be who we are today without the people who worked for us."
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