a family business than spans three generations
As Founder of the Land In Warrnambool brand, I'm proud to share the story of our family business that began more than 52 years ago.
By Nat Stevens
If you asked Warrnambool’s longest standing property developer Graeme Rodger his recipe for success, he’d proudly tell you that his success came the old fashioned way – through hard work. In 2016 he celebrated 50 years since he started his civil construction business Rodger Constructions back in 1967.
My father Graeme is the local visionary who’s contributed to much of Warrnambool’s growth. He's one of eight kids, six boys and two girls. He was born in the middle.
"When you’re one of eight, you don’t get many breaks. We were taught early on that the key to our happiness was to look out for each other and get along. My father was a Scottish migrant who ran a small dairy farm and supplemented his income as a road patrolman. My mother was a strong and resourceful woman who was self-sufficient. If we couldn’t grow it, we didn’t eat it and if mum couldn’t make it, we didn’t have it.”
“We had a great life. We didn’t have a lot of money, but there isn’t one thing we went without. We had the things that mattered, particularly love, and that’s the greatest gift my parents gave me that I can pass on.”
My mum Doreen and my dad first met when they were both four years old.
“We lived next to each other and were brought up together. Neither of us have a memory without the other. We are where we are today because of each other."
They had four children. My sisters Angela and Tania, and my brother Jason. Together we gave them 16 grandchildren!
They will have been married 50 years this year.
“One of my greatest strengths is that my family are involved in business with me,”
“I’m in business with all of my family, but they’re not in business together. Much of my diversity over the years has been directed in the areas that take their interest. They all have their areas of expertise and I feel fortunate to have been able to watch over their shoulder as they have developed their own businesses. “
“That’s something that I’m really proud of – even when I’m not around, that it will continue on. Over the past 15 years I’ve started to pass the gauntlet to them.”
“Too many people go to work, work hard and die, and the business dies with them.”
“With the right people around it, the type of business I’ve built has the potential to move from one generation to the next.”
The self-made man behind the estates found on landinwarrnambool.com.au was born in Geelong and grew up in Colac. He started his own plumbing business in 1967 following his national service in the Australian Defence Force. His business evolved to become what we now know today as Rodger Constructions and is today headed up by his only son, my brother Jason Rodger. The Rodger Group of companies today employs around 150 people in Warrnambool.
Rodger Constructions started out as a plumbing business in Colac and soon graduated to earthworks, civil construction and property development.
In the early days the business continued to work across the State building sewerage systems across regional Victoria whilst maintaining civil construction projects in and around the South West including Warrnambool.
Dad had a thirst for realising his vision across the country, specifically Queensland, Victoria and South Australia. But it’s not only residential development that has taken his fancy over the years. He’s also developed commercial properties such as motels, caravan parks and hospitality venues. In 1974 he purchased his first hotel, The Criterion, in Tatura.
“I’ve been in the hospitality industry since”
During the late ‘80s mum and dad also built and operated motels. Some of their favourite projects included the Clare Central Motel with Treloars Restaurant and the Goolwa Central Motel with Murphy’s Inn Irish Hotel.
“We would look for towns that had tourist appeal but that lacked adequate accommodation. We’d just stick around and get started on building something. We had some really fun times.”
Closer to home, Dad has developed the Flying Horse Bar and Brewery, the Hopkins River Caravan Park and the Gillin Park Retirement Village, as well as numerous residential estates across the city. He's was the inaugural chairman of the South West Water Authority today known as Wannon Water. He's served as a city councillor in both Colac and in later years Warrnambool.
“There is a sense of pride in a lot of things I’ve been involved in,”
“It’s a feeling of satisfaction to still be in business after 50 years. It’s a great ride to be on. “
Today as The Rodger Group we manage every aspect of the property development supply chain from the purchase of raw land, through to rezoning and planning to construction, release, marketing and sales.
“Ultimately, we specialise in providing families with a parcel of land to build their home,”
Ultimately, our brand 'Land In Warrnambool' is a celebration of what we've achieved as a group thus far.
Land IN WARRNAMBOOL TODAY
A journey we're proud to continue
Dad's deems his greatest gift in life as being that he gets to spend everyday working with his family on different areas of the group as it's diversified over the years.
Whilst other family members work in other areas of the Rodger Group my husband Sam has been directly involved in the property development side of things for more than 20 years.
Sam began his career in property development at the coal face of construction as a supervising plumber on subdivisions under construction. He went on to became the property development manager responsible for all elements of the property development supply chain in regards to development planning, delivery of lots and sales.
As for me, as Graeme’s youngest daughter I've had a lifetime of exposure to the civil construction and home building industry through the education he gifted me whilst growing up in the civil construction industry. In recent years I've founded Build In Oz and became a best selling author with my book Building Home – The 5 Step Journey to Building your Best Lifestyle. In 2019 I launched the Building Home Masterclass Series to help families build the very best home for the very best price.
Thanks for being here and sharing in our story.