On Sunday 14 February, Gutter-Vac founders, Warren and Anne Ballantyne, celebrated 36 years of working together as the business celebrates 21 years of franchising in 2021.
Gutter cleaning wasn’t always Warren’s calling, but 26 years ago the then-plumber spent a lot of time cleaning gutters by barehand proving a serious safety risk. Determined to find a better way, in 1995 Warren and Anne created Gutter-Vac out of their Bundaberg home.
“We had a need in our plumbing business to clean gutters, and it became more and more a part of what we did. So we decided the solution was vacuuming to make it more efficient, and safer. We searched and we found vacuuming equipment, and literally started the business a month after we thought about it,” Warren said.
Over the years, the design has been refined and the Gutter-Vac vacuum system is one of the franchise’s unique selling points; it’s convenient, safe, and allows operators to clean roofs from the ground if they don’t like heights.
The perfected equipment is thanks to Warren and his brother, Trevor, who always had safety at the forefront of their minds. Warren began Ballantyne Safety which offered heights equipment training and an RTO nationally accredited training course, which would later be rolled out to Gutter-Vac franchisees.
In the early days of its conception, it was hard to get people to pay for gutter cleaning.
“At the time, to be fair, people didn’t pay people to clean their gutters. They just got the kid next door to get up and clean it. So, when we started charging $80 to clean their gutters, people used to laugh at me and say, ‘people will never pay that’. Well guess what – they do! And today that same size house would be $400,” Warren reminisced.
In 2000 Gutter-Vac began franchising, and as it grew, Warren and Anne relocated to big-smoke Brisbane – although all the trailers and tools are still made locally in Bundaberg.
The business now boasts a growing 90 territories across Australia, and involves a network of 51 franchisees. With the national business experiencing year on year growth – the 17% growth during the 2020 pandemic leading some franchisees to call their business ‘bullet-proof’.
Working together for 36 years off their 46-year-old marriage, Anne and Warren have perfected a relationship wherein they have built an extended family around their personal one. A point of pride to the couple is the community that is present amongst their franchisees.
“If one of our franchisees gets sick, the other surrounding franchisees will put their hand up and do the work for them so they can survive – that’s the best thing about our franchisees, they want to help each other at no expense to each other,” Anne said.
When asked what they’re most proud of over the last 21 years of franchising, Anne says it’s been how they’ve helped people.
“We’ve been able to give so many people a lifestyle, to help them out, take just an ordinary man from the street and turn him into a businessman with a profitable business, to be able to buy a house and go on overseas holidays,” Anne said.
Warren and Anne look forward to continuing to grow the business past the twenty-first milestone, and both strive for “continuous improvement”.
If you’re interested in joining Warren and Anne’s Gutter-Vac family, give Warren a call on 0407 591 446.