In 1995 Bundaberg brothers Trevor and Warren Ballantyne took a leap of faith and started a small company called Gutter-Vac and it’s now the largest gutter-cleaning network in the world.
Through the 1970s as eager young men, Trevor completed his trade with Toft Brothers, while Warren took on a plumbing business Ballantyne Plumbing.
But it was in 1995 when they realised there was a missing industry to help residents keep their homes clean and safe, and that’s when they joined forces and started Gutter-Vac.
Trevor said during the last 25 years a lot had changed in the business, not just with the growth of the company to national status, but also the equipment and safety.
Initially Gutter-Vac was a fitted-out box trailer equipped with ladders and a high-powered vacuum system used to clean the gutters of Bundaberg homes.
And two keen men who would climb to any height to ensure customer satisfaction.
Now, with custom-built attachments, secure safety equipment and more keen people, Gutter-Vac has grown from humble beginnings in Bundaberg to more than 70 franchises across Australia.
Trevor, who now spends his days steering the ship rather than climbing on rooftops, said when they started cherry pickers and scaffolding was used to clean gutters and safety equipment such as harnesses weren’t readily used.
“In the early days, here in Bundaberg, we worked to perfect the systems,” Trevor said.
“We made our own safety equipment and came up with a t-bar prototype.
“The t-bar and tether plate are integral parts of equipment. We made the very first one.
“Before this there were cherry pickers, and all sorts of things such as scaffolding – now there’s no need for scaffolding.”
The booming home-service industry led the brothers to franchise Gutter-Vac and it is now found in every state and territory in Australia.
“Gutter-Vac is really a success story to come out of Bundaberg,” Trevor said.
“Out of the last 25 years, now is the busiest I have seen it.
“Gutter-Vac is getting stronger and stronger as we aim to educate homeowners on the importance of keeping their gutters clean.”
Local relationships important to Gutter-Vac
Trevor said through the quarter of a century in business what he admired most was the relationships he had built with customers.
“The rewarding part of the business is the people,” he said.
“I’ve been cleaning gutters for a lady twice a year for 15 years, and I feel like her long-lost son – she is one of many.
“It’s about helping people, and we help out when we can; if we can help out by changing a light globe for them – we do, because that is what you do.”
Gutter-Vac was also voted number 1 franchise in Australia in 2017 by iFranchise Australia, who said up until 1995 there was only one way to keep gutters clean and that was by hand.
iFranchise Australia said the Ballantyne brothers revolutionised gutter cleaning when they introduced the gutter vacuuming system.
“The idea was so popular that Gutter-Vac started franchising in 2000 and introduced the successful formula to benefit franchisees all over Australia,” iFranchise Australia said.
“Today, it still remains a family-owned business that has enriched the lives of many families – both as franchisees and as customers.”
To find out more about Gutter-Vac click here.