It’s not every day that employees reach such a milestone and we think it’s something to celebrate! Jacob Gruis, Branch Manager of Lawrence & Hanson Traralgon has just celebrated his 20th year with Lawrence & Hanson. ‘Jake’ started as a storeman/sales role in Morwell back in 2001 and was quickly recognised for his exceptional work ethic and relationship building capabilities. Throughout his career, Jake has shown a ‘can do’ attitude and quickly earnt the respect and admiration of his peers and customers. On the day of his 20th-year celebration, we sat down with Jake and asked him about his L&H journey – we hope you enjoy it!
What was it like when you first started? What is your opinion has been the biggest change through your time here? I started as a store/sales in Morwell L&H and back in 2001 we would still get reps with boxes of catalogues to distribute, we had a computer system called ‘Sirius which was very basic with a black screen and green text and you used the F functions to navigate through screens. We used the old dot matrix printers and paper and as the reports would print overnight we would occasionally come into work to find the paper spread out all over the floor. No one did online purchasing and we would need to back-up the computer system with a cassette each night.The advancement of technology has been the biggest change without a doubt. From LED technology, smartphones, Solar technology, online ordering, electronic POD’s & invoicing etc. Even just small things like having a GPS instead of having to use a Melways or town maps in the back of the White Pages has made doing business a lot easier
What are the biggest highlights you have had at Lawrence & Hanson?
I’ve been lucky to have a few. I became a Branch manager in 2006 at the age of 23 at L&H Sale which was a small regional 3 person store about 50 minutes drive away from home. It wasn’t in great shape back then and I’d had zero management training, but through much hard work hired a good young team and managed to turn it around into a very profitable branch by the time I left it six years later and happy to say it’s continued that trend.In 2010 I was awarded a national BMOTY award for the best small branch manager. As I said we had a very young team at the Sale store and in 2010 we had an average age of just 22 and I was the stores wise old man at 27 years old. We also won the Regions most profitable branch award that year.Breaking the L&H Traralgon stores full-year record in 2014, 2015 and then along with the sales record a third consecutive ebit record in 2016. One we came very close to beating in 2020.I’ve also been very lucky to have been given a chance to travel to various places with the business. Germany, Vanuatu, Sydney, New Zealand, Tasmania, Queensland a few times. All these experiences were simply amazing and I’m very grateful to L&H for these memories I will cherish always.
What did you most enjoy about working for Lawrence & Hanson?
The people. Being able to work in and lead in a small team environment with regular clients. Being able to train staff and seeing people with no industry experience progress, succeed and become key staff and leaders themselves. I really enjoy that part.
What makes you proud to be working for Lawrence & Hanson?
I really like the loyalty the company shows to its staff and to its clients, also that we put time into training and to skill and career development for our staff and often prefer to hire from within.
If there was one piece of advice you would give someone starting their career in our industry/company – what would it be?
The same words as our ex CEO Robin Norris said to me in my very first year with the company. “It’s really a people business. We buy and sell stuff yes, but nothing different to many others. The difference is if you can manage to put your people first and look after them, then the business of selling stuff becomes easy”.