Everyone in Ballarat is familiar with the sight of bright yellow Eureka Concrete trucks trundling down the road, however not everyone is familiar with the story of adversity and triumph of the man who made it all happen.
Graeme Beaston, the co-founder of Eureka Concrete, has worked every day of his life to get where he is today but it is story of overcoming early trauma and building one of Ballrat’s best known businesses that is a model for other young people.
Looking out over Lake Wendouree from their home, I spoke to Graeme and Yvonne Beaston about Graeme’s journey to where they are today.
Born in 1943, Mr Beaston came from humble beginnings, spending some of his formative years in St Joeseph’s Home in Sebastapol.
“I went through a lot of hurt in that place,” said Mr Beaston. "But it's not just me that was hurt, a lot of other kids are hurting too"
The notorious church run Sebastapol boys home figured prominently in the news as victims of abuse came forward and told their stories of physical and sexual abuse including at the Ballarat hearings of the Royal Commission into Institutionalised Sexual Abuse.
Mr Beaston did not detail his own story at the home but he doesn’t want his experiences within St Joseph's control him, instead highlighting how it shouldn't stop him or others from achieving his life goals.
“I want (children in boarding homes) to know that you can still make something of yourself, no matter where you come from.”
Mr Beaston entered the building and construction industry in 1964, working for Roland Quarries.
Shortly after this, Mr Beaston and his wife Yvonne were married.
1968 was a big year for the Beaston’s, as they sold their car to buy their first truck, while also welcoming their first son Jason into the world.
Two years later, Mr Beaston went off to manage the construction of the Bungle Dam with Pioneer Concrete, and they were forced to sell the truck.
Graeme spoke fondly of his early work experiences, and how he would do anything he was asked to help out.
“I had some very good bosses, they were very good to me,
“There was no talking back, if we were told to sweep the gutters we'd do it back then, it's how I was brought up, it's different now."
During the completion of the Bungle Dam, two new Beaston’s joined the family following the birth of twins Troy and Luke.
Graeme returned to Ballarat in 1972, and with the help of two of his workmates from the dam, went on to co-found Eureka Concrete.
Over the years, as the business continued to expand, so did their family, and the Beaston’s became the sole owners of Eureka Concrete 1977, and welcomed their forth son Dominic in 1980.
However, they were not without competition.
“When we first started, Broal and Pioneer were trying to run us out of town,” said Yvonne Beaston.
“But we knew that Ballarat people are loyal, and always stood by us and our business.”
It is because of this loyalty that Ballarat showed the Beaston’s, that they feel so inclined to give back to the community.
“We want to help the people that helped us,” Mr Beaston said.
The Beaston’s faced their biggest challenge in 2016, when Graeme suddenly fell ill with viral encephalitis.
“It changed me, messed with my brain, made me into a bit of a sook,” laughed Mr Beaston.
His illness however, was no laughing matter.
It was through the love and support shown by those around him, and those in the community who knew, that the Beaston’s were able to get through this tough time.
Mr Beaston’s biggest achievement came this year, as on 26 August he was inducted into the National Road Transport Hall of Fame in Alice Springs.
Not one for accolades, Mr Beaston was understandably taken aback by his surprise nomination.
“I was embarrassed, I didn’t think anyone should have been making a big fuss out of me.”
Highlighting his selflessness, Mr Beaston redirected all the praise for his success to those around him, such as his four sons, his wife, Robert Thornton who worked beside Graeme for 39 years, and Jim and Clair Hurley who run Australia wide Kenworth dealerships.
All the work that Mr Beaston has done for the Ballarat community will forever be engraved at the Shell Rimula Wall of Fame.
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