From cases to houses
JOHN Eggins knew from the age of five that he would be a builder.
This year, the company he founded with his father, Eggins Prestige Homes, turns 40.
"My father was a banana farmer and I used to build banana cases," he said.
"My mother tells me I could build a banana case by the time I was six years old.
"I have a natural ability to put things together and I can build almost anything."He also found he had a natural talent for design and has used that flair to build more than 500 homes in the local area.
Mr Eggins believes the secret of his company's success is all about honesty and integrity and listening to his clients' requirements.
"It's important to understand what my clients want rather than telling them what they should have..
"The margins are continually being squeezed all the time so we work on the principle of giving the right price up front all the time," he said.
"In the good times we don't rip people off and in the bad times we hope people would still be prepared to pay what we have to pay."
Mr Eggins also believes that a house should be designed to suit its building site. "They make a big deal these days about the BASIX (The Building Sustainability Index) but I have been doing that since I started.
"There is a real economic benefit to be had in having a well-designed house that takes advantage of the summer breezes and the winter sun."
After completing his apprenticeship with Wilcox and McPherson Builders, Mr Eggins started out in Alstonville in the 1970s buildings houses for as little as $17,000.
These days the median price of an Eggins Home is about $350,000, with the most expensive so far $3 million.
No matter how expensive the home is, Mr Eggins is always thrilled to hand over the keys.
"Hopefully we have fulfilled their dreams," he said. "You become part of their life and in the majority of cases you become their friend.
"When I retire and walk around Ballina and see the houses I have built I want to know that I have given my clients the best houses I could give them."