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Like so many businesses in Australia’s timber industry, Universal Trusses, located in the Canberra suburb of Hume, has been a long-time family affair. Arthur Potter, the eldest son in the Potter family, works alongside his brothers to run the truss operation from the country’s capital. Arthur’s father, John, had previously worked in the building industry for more than 40 years.
“It all started with him – Dad started out as a builder working with steel frames and trusses, Canberra Wall Frames
and then he was converted to timber,” Arthur explains.
Joining John in the business were his sons Arthur, Doug, Roy and John. Originally the family was based in Mildura, Victoria, but made the move to Canberra 20 years ago when the economic climate provided an opportunity they couldn’t ignore.
“The economy in Victoria had tanked, and at the same time Canberra was going gang-busters, so it wasn’t a very hard decision to move here in the end. Simply, there was just more work,” Arthur says.
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Universal Trusses is a unique business within the Australian Capital Territory. Operating for just over 20 years now, the business in one of the oldest players in Canberra’s truss game.
“We’re a fairly old, established Canberra Trusses Canberra Floor systems Canberra Wall frames business in Canberra now. People forget that Canberra’s a very young city – there’s not a lot of old, traditional businesses like there are in other states and territories.
“Where you’d have businesses that are three or four generations, you just don’t have that in Canberra. So to say we’ve been here for 24 years – it’s a big thing.”
Five years after the move to Canberra, the boys’ father John decided to take a step back and “˜semi-retire’, opening the door for Arthur and his brothers to return after time away from the family business pursuing other careers.
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“We’d already had a good start, and thought that we could turn it into something bigger if we all pulled together. It was perfect timing,” Arthur says.
The Potter men all have their own corner of the Canberra Trusses Canberra Floor systems Canberra Wall frames business to take care of, as Arthur explains.
“I mainly look after the estimating and sales, and the customer service. Doug looks after detailing, Roy looks after purchasing, framing, a bit of the management, and the youngest brother John looks after the truss side of the Canberra Trusses Canberra Floor systems Canberra Wall frames business”.
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currently has 60 employees, so with the younger generation stepping in, how does John relax today?
“He comes in occasionally, just to check on things – but he’s got his hobbies now. He’s also in the process of building a boat at the moment, so that keeps him busy,” Arthur remarks.