SIGN OF THE TIMES: Sauers owner and manager David Lade outside the freshly made over old Sauers building.
SIGN OF THE TIMES: Sauers owner and manager David Lade outside the freshly made over old Sauers building. Renee Albrecht

Sauers rich in Gympie history

Before it was Sauers Produce and Garden Supplies, it was the Gympie Fruitgrowers Co-operative.
Before it was Sauers Produce and Garden Supplies, it was the Gympie Fruitgrowers Co-operative. Renee Albrecht

 

 

THERE are certain names in Gympie that, when they are mentioned, immediately bring to mind the business empires they have created.

When anyone mentions the name Sauer, one instantly thinks farm produce and garden supplies.

That's because Frank Sauer, in 1932 founded Sauers Produce in its current location.

Most of the buildings along Tozer St are owned by the Sauer family and their descendants and have been since the early 1950s.

Originally there were three businesses operating out of the old building; one in each of the three roller doored sections, including a petrol bowser out front.

During the Second World War, a baker, Keith Gribben had a pie shop in the front of the central section.

All of Mr Gribben's pies were baked on the premises, in a huge oven that used to be in the basement of the old building

He would sell his pies to the troops who were coming and going from the then thriving Gympie Railway Station.

Underneath, John Brown did car gas conversions during the Second World War when fuel rationing was on and Hec McKenzie was a furniture builder making squatter's chairs.

 

After the war, Frank decided he needed to expand and eventually moved into the old pie shop. The business continued to grow, but Frank soon found he had nowhere else to expand to as the real estate agent in the right hand section of the main building was reluctant to move.

When, the entire building came up for sale through another real estate agency, a family friend shared the knowledge and Frank bought the entire block and extended into the right section as well.

Business was booming and during the mid-50s a brick extension was added to the main building.

The extension was clad by the same brickies who worked on the Nestle Factory in Pine St.

The brickies came up from Brisbane and rather than take the train back home for the weekends, they stayed in town and built the extension for Frank Sauer.

During the next couple of decades, Frank passed the business on to his two sons, Ben and Kon, and it continued to thrive and grow.

Current owner and operator, David Lade remembers working for the two brothers.

"I try to emulate what Ben and Kon did. They were all about working at the coalface. They might be in the office, but if they could see we were swamped, they would come down and help us out," David said.

After the Gympie Railway Station closed, the business was bought by a larger company but in 1997 David and Annette (Frank's granddaughter) Lade relaunched Sauers Produce and Garden Centre in the original building to return the business to its roots as a family owned and run agricultural, gardening and rural supplies store.

In 2001, Sauers opened a branch in Cooroy to cater for customers in the Sunshine Coast hinterland.

David and Annette believed wholeheartedly in the venture and decided to invest their own money into making the business a viable concern, and now, more than 15 years later, the Cooroy store is going from strength to strength.

Now, nearly 85 years after the business first started up, Sauers has undergone a facelift, with all new signage and a brand new coat of heritage green paint to highlight the features of the original building.

David is thrilled with the result and the comments from customers and said the business needs to grow and change with Gympie.

"We've had a really positive response to the clean up and makeover," he said. "We look at it now and say, 'Wow!' We should have done it years ago."

Gympie Times


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