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Business runs like father like son

FAMILY AFFAIR: Peter Bellgrove along with Christine and Gerard Bellgrove runs Ainsworth Motors and Machinery in Chinchilla.
FAMILY AFFAIR: Peter Bellgrove along with Christine and Gerard Bellgrove runs Ainsworth Motors and Machinery in Chinchilla. Julia Baker

FOR some fathers it would be no easy feat to loosen the reins and hand over the family business to their son, but for Peter Bellgrove it was easy.

Mr Bellgrove has worked for Ainsworth Motors and Machinery in Chinchilla for more than 40 years but it wasn't until two years ago, when his son Gerard and daughter-in-law Christine bought in, Ainsworth became a true family business.

"We play bowls together, we work together and if he didn't come into the business, I wouldn't be here. No doubt at all. I'm at retiring age, so if Gerard hadn't have come back I would've sold,” Mr Bellgrove said.

Mr Bellgrove said it was important to him he'd been able to hand over the business to his son and had not been forced to sell to a large corporate group.

"It's hard to remain in the industry with all the large corporates... for small business to survive it's very hard.”

His hope to keep the business independent and firmly in the hands of his family is a sentiment shared by Gerard.

"I think the industry lends itself to bigger things, bigger manufacturers want to deal with less people. I think there is a huge advantage to being an owner-operator. We can make decisions on the fly a lot quicker without having to look to corporate or outside approval. The decision makers for our business sit in our business,” Gerard said.

"I like to think we'll always be a small business - it's a challenge for our business but I don't want to sell to corporate.”

Mr Bellgrove joined Ainsworth Motors as a young accountant before buying the business from founder Fred Ainsworth seven years ago.

Gerard also studied accounting at university but while the father and son duo share a talent for numbers they say they bring different traits to the day-to-day running of the business.

"Dad and I are certainly different, I am IT based and he's more old school,” Gerard said.

"I embrace the digital world a lot more than he does but he's really a calming influence whereas I am more of a bull at a gate, let's get it done kind of thing, so those traits certainly complement each other.

"It's challenging, we had a transition when I worked in the business in accounting and then went away and came back to a more managerial role and then we had a power change. I'm sort of running the business and Dad is no longer so heavily involved. It's a dynamic change and it took us a little while to go through that change.”

Ainsworth specialises in the sale of GM Holden, new, used and demo vehicles, machinery, parts and servicing and is the local RACQ service provider.

Gerard said there was a distinct advantage to owning a family business, not only from a personal and professional perspective but being able to serve clients and the wider community.

"We're the only locally owned motor and machinery dealer in town now. The other guys are all corporate so we're the only surviving family owned dealer,” he said.

"There's an implicit trust within a family business, but we never switch off; at home and at family functions we're always talking work.

"It's great to see family businesses in rural communities, it's what keeps them going - families that are invested in the town.

"I am known to my market and my clients. People want to deal with you because they know you're here in the town and you're not going anywhere.”


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