What’s changed since brooms started being made in the Tumut Broom Factory in 1946?
Not much. Our sewing machines were made in the‘40s and‘50s. There are newer machines, with computers and air rams – but just like new cars,there’s more to go wrong and they’re harder to fix. The old ones work better for us. The big change is the output. When my dad was working here the factory was turning out 500 brooms a day. Now it’s just Rob and me and we make about 50 a day.
What is your main market?
Most of our brooms are sold through stock and station agents in NSW and Victoria. It’s a quality thing. You can’t have an unreliable imported broom in a shearing shed that breaks in the middle of the day and the missus has to drive 80km to go get a new broom.
In its heyday Tumut grew 70 per cent of Australia’s millet. Can you still source your millet locally?
There are one or two growers left. Back then the local dairy farmers would put in a cash crop of broom millet over the summer and teams would go around in the autumn for the harvest. It’s
hard physical work though, harvesting the millet by hand, and you can’t get the workers now. So we source what we can locally, and import Mexican millet via the US.