All Rod needs is a buddy
By SAMANTHA TURNBULL
RODNEY Johnson was nearly killed in a gold mine, but now he is sitting on his own bonanza.
All he needs is a business partner to share and spread the wealth.
The winner of last year's Northern Rivers Business Innovation Awards and owner of Beach Buddy Security Box's (sic) is on the verge of earning $1.8 million per year, donating a stack of it to the community, creating 80 jobs for people with disabilities and potentially saving lives on local beaches.
The 43-year-old Lismore man came up with his business idea after he lost partial use of his arms and shoulders in an accident at the Timbarra gold mine, near Drake, in 1999.
"I became entangled in some ropes and was being dragged into a rock crusher," he said.
"I pulled back and basically pulled my arms out of their sockets. I'm never going to be fit for normal light duties again."
After seeing a news story urging beachgoers to lock up their valuables, Mr Johnson spent three years inventing a 140-locker box on a purpose-built trailer with a patented keyless system.
He can add a platform to the top of the contraption for lifeguards to eliminate the need for watch towers at beaches.
Beach Buddy Security Box's, now a registered trademark, has the backing of local councils, police and Surf Lifesaving Australia.
However, a decision by Mr Johnson's insurance company to not come through with a final payment has meant he cannot finish setting up his business, which will involve building 30 more security boxes.
"They no longer have a responsibility to pay me a wage if they feel I will do well on my own, and that's what they think will happen with this business," he said.
"But you've just got to get on with it and look at the positives.
"I'm a proud Australian, I've lived a great life, I'm not a cripple and I believe this is a calling for me."
The system can be erected at beaches, music festivals or sporting events and can fit anything from a set of keys to a pram. A large portion of the profits raised will be donated to charity.
"I'm a communitybased person and my wealth comes from the smiles of others," said Mr Johnson.
Once the 30 boxes are built, 80 employees will also be hired and Mr Johnson plans on giving these jobs to people with disabilities.
Potential business partners would be required to fund the construction of 30 units at a cost of about $400,000.
For more information, phone Mr Johnson on 0411 148 179.