No strangers to owning a business, the Maher family have done everything from hardware and fire sprinkler installation, to operating a pub in Healesville. Their most recent venture however, came with the purchase of a long-running boat business, Edencraft.
First catching the family’s eye in 2009 when the business moved to Geelong, Grant Maher was so impressed by the business he even purchased one of their boats.
“When it moved to Geelong dad bought one of the boats, and he had the first one built in Geelong,” says business manager Josie Maher.
An offer was made on purchasing the business in 2013, however with the timing not quite right, it wasn’t until mid-2016 when the Maher family took over the business.
In that time, Edencraft has brought the heart of manufacturing back to Geelong, with a team growing from three staff to more than a dozen in the initial 12 months of operation. Edencraft also moved locations and dedicated 14 months to creating an entirely new model to add to the business’ offerings.
Part of these decisions can be of thanks to Josie Maher.
“My idea is in three years we’ll be looking at expanding to New Zealand and Asia,” says Josie.
“We’ve got lots of contacts through Hong Kong and have people telling us we should bring the boats over and sell them.”
Daughter to Grant and Kerri, Josie was raised in the world of business, so the transition into her role of business manager at Edencraft was an easy decision.
The nature of this male-driven industry and her age has seen Josie underestimated in her abilities. However, with each phone call and business deal, she’s reaffirmed her position in the business.
“People at the boat shows expect me not to know anything about boats and they’ll be really standoffish at the start. Probably the first two minutes of every conversation is the guy thinking I’m not going to know anything,” she says.
Over the two years Edencraft has built upon its hard-working and passionate team, including Chris Norman who has been with the company for more than a decade. This cohesiveness has seen staff implement the improvements to operations with ease.
“We came straight in and operated it purely as a business,” says Josie.
“We haven’t done much in the way the boats are built, we’ve just increased production straight away. A few things have been changed to make things quicker and have less wastage.”
The family’s changes to the way the business presents itself to the public has resulted in Australia’s first national TV series based solely on an Australian boat manufacturer.
Partnering with Foxtel, Edencraft TV is a 13-part series showcasing boat building, fishing, the great outdoors and everything in-between.
Set to launch in August, the TV series will put Geelong and Edencraft on the map, continuing the business’ trajectory to bigger and better things each year.
Written by Amanda Sherring.