STEVE Troon has been in the game long enough to have to pull down works his family business has built, only to start constructing the space again.
Modern architecture, in particular, did not tend to have long life-spans amid changing community needs, he said. This is all part of the city's evolution.
Adapting is what H.Troon is built on. Five generations of Troons have been about breaking barriers to what can be possible both in their community and now across Australia and New Zealand from their base in Ballarat. But they have also been about keeping the essence of what the business means in Ballarat.
The company has only had eight directors in its history, including active directors Steve Troon and his son James. As H.Troon prepares to celebrate 150 years in business, Steve and James say such a milestone is only possible due to support in this city, including their loyal workforce.
We've never really wanted to leave Ballarat, despite those who argued we could've got much bigger...We've never seen Ballarat as being a handbrake on business. We have a reputation and we can deliver.Steve Troon
"We've never really wanted to leave Ballarat, despite those who argued we could've got much bigger," Steve said. "Our workforce is so strong and supportive. We've never seen Ballarat as being a handbrake on business. We have a reputation and we can deliver.
"We have an office in Melbourne now, that's part of a natural progression, but our headquarters are here in Ballarat and so is our steel fabrication."
Henry Troon set up business as a blacksmith in Ballarat. His trade included making colonial ovens for the region. His shop in Armstrong Street South held the family business for about three quarters of a century.
Henry's father had arrived in Australia in 1852, first working in copper mines, until he was joined by his wife and six children (including Henry) six years later. It was unclear when Henry settled in Ballarat.
Henry's son Harold also became a blacksmith and started also working in steel fabrication, diverting business from forging. His son Graeme stepped up to take over the family business aged 21 with assistance from younger brother Harold Junior. Together they grew the structural steel arm of the business and ventured into aluminium products.
During this period in the 1950s, the company transferred to a larger site on Creswick Road, where its headquarters remain today.
By the mid-1970s, Master Builders Association was dominating the construction industry about town. Troon's structural steel did not fit the association's mould. Graeme Troon, under pressure, opted to "beat them at their own game", as his son Steve said, and disrupt the industry.
Structural steel was Troon's point of difference.
"History now shows we're the largest building outfit from that time. We're not working on a national scale in every state in Australia," Steve said. "That was pretty out-there at the time but a number of people were sick of the industry and we were new, fresh blood with a new way of doing business. A lot of people grabbed on to what we gave as an alternative to old ways."
Graeme's three sons Ross, Steven and Michael grew up and wanted to stay in the family business. They stepped up as company directors with their father as chairman.
Similarly growing up in the family business, Steve's son James remembers playing on escalators in Central Square as a child before the then-modern shopping centre opened.
Almost 30 years later, James was company director alongside his dad and opening Delacombe Town Centre to cater for booming population growth in the city's west.
In adapting their work to meet community needs, not all H.Troon builds are beloved in Ballarat.
The company built Norwich Plaza, which is consistently under fire as a city eyesore. But, as Steve maintained, Troon is the builder - not the developer.
And, of course, there were the Golden Arches.
"Bakery Hill McDonald's was an especially controversial build. The unions had a green ban saying it compromised the design of the Bakery Hill streetscape and, of course, it is such an historic site," Steve said. "It become the only McDonald's in the world at the time to not look like all the others."
The Courier also chronicled The Verandah Controversy about what is now Myer. Council voted late one night to approve demolition for the old Town Hall Hotel in Armstrong Street, known for its sea-shell facade on the ground floor. This was to make way for Central Square.
Troon crews were at work before the crack of dawn the next morning to ensure the pub was knocked down before protesters arrived.
Part of the compromise for Central Square was to keep the look of the cast iron verandah from the pub and what was the Paterson's building. Only fierce community debate ensured as to what exact style the verandah would be by the centre's grand opening in what became dubbed The Verandah Controversy in 1988.
Troon work can also be found in Ballarat Health Service's Base Hospital from the new Gardiner-Pittard wing to the multi-storey car park and helipad. Nearby, Troon has also worked through St John of God Ballarat's hospital redevelopment phases.
A partnership with Federation University had Troon creating the tech park, including buildings that house IBM, State Revenue Office and State Library of Victoria.
Troon lifted its national presence amid the Western Australia mining boom with a construction shortage 13 years ago and is also now known as the builder of Bunnings across the nation.
The company generates up to $190 million annually with a constant direct employee pool of 100 people, plus large ripple effects in sub-contracting.
If you venture into the Creswick Road office you will see Henry Troon's anvil, which was still in use until only a few years ago.
James said H.Troon was an incredible legacy and history to be part of in Ballarat.
"Steve and I see ourselves as custodians of the company. As family has dropped away, we've brought in help and support of good heads in senior management roles but we still distill the Troon family culture," James said.
"We've got a lot of loyalty in our staff - they show us that and we show them the same in return."
H.Troon will celebrate its 150-year milestone on Friday night in a marquee on View Point.
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