Great start for Old Fart's Parts in the Pioneer Valley
AFTER suffering a massive heart attack and undergoing a triple bypass, a well-known businessman ditched retirement and launched a booming venture from his backyard shed.
Geoff Walsh has been working in the parts industry in the Mackay region for decades, but his new business Old Fart's Parts takes a different tack.
It's based entirely online and now services customers in Denmark, Sweden, Russia and soon America, as well as across the country.
It all started five months ago, when the 71-year-old tackled about 50 years of parts stacked in his shed, beginning to photograph and catalogue the vast collection of industrial and agricultural bits and bobs - to the delight of his wife of more than three decades, Violet Walsh.
Now, Mr Walsh is able to work entirely from his home on Stockroute Road, perched atop a pristine patch of the Pioneer Valley.
Mr Walsh - who formerly owned Geoff Walsh Engine Parts and has an interest in GW Industrial, which his daughter independently owns - entered quasi-retirement about a year ago when the heart attack struck and he underwent surgery, but the father, tinkerer and keen musician has not been able to sit still for long.
However, the Mackay region resident since 1971 and parts dealer since the 1960s wouldn't have it any other way. He's evidently passionate about the work he does and was pleased to knuckle down in his role of "chief old fart".
It's a been an unforgettable journey for Mr Walsh, who first began business in Mackay "selling bits out of the back of an XL (Ford) Falcon panel van to all of the service stations around town".
"On November 21 (last year) I had the heart attack and after that I was told I should stay home and slow down to a gallop. I was pretty rugged during the first six weeks (after the operation). It knocked me on my a---," he said.
"They split me down the middle. Opened me up and the springs and the gears went everywhere. But I'm doing fine now. It's certainly a lot easier working from home now, and it gave me a good reason to get in and clean up the shed.
"The shed was a total rats nest at first. Now, we're selling to all over the world. I sold some stuff to Russia, for the first sale actually."
"We're also selling parts across Australia - from Perth to Adelaide, to Innisfail to Newcastle, Wagga Wagga, Swan Hill. All coming off the website.
"I just get up in the morning, after spending half the night awake, then I take photos, clean stuff up, upload online. There's a bit involved, but I do them (parts) 30-40 at a time. Some weeks it's 15-20 sales, depends, but there's always something stewing in the pot."
Mr Walsh had no idea his online business would boom so drastically in such a short time.
"It just took off. I had no idea it would be like that," he exclaimed.
However, Mr Walsh's knowledge of the intricacies of particular parts, and ability to source rarer pieces through a wide web of contacts, has to play a big part.
He did note it's quite strange how things play out: he registered Old Fart's Parts domain name for the internet six years ago on something of a gut feeling. "I pre-empted down the track I may need to back off work, registered the name. My plan B," he smiled.
"I've sort of become known now as the 'hard to get parts bloke'. That works for me."