WHILE the distance between the first and latest Spud Shed built by Baldivis businessman Tony Galati might only be a few metres, it represents almost 20 or more years of his career building up a WA vegetable retail empire.
Mr Galati was in a reflective mood as he oversaw the final preparations for the opening of his latest mega store, which occupies almost 4000 square metres in Baldivis.
The store which opened yesterday, is next to the very first Spud Shed, which closed for good this week.
“I just walked through the old shed; it’s the last day in there but you’ve got to move on with the times,” he said.
“This land used to be bush. We cleared and irrigated it, put sprinklers out and built the shed and here we are now.”
Mr Galati said the growth of the Spud Shed had been a journey, starting with the first shed in Baldivis that opened in 1998.
“So many people have come with us and we’ve got a great following from our customers,” he said. “Our customers tell us that it wasn’t for us they wouldn’t be able to eat healthy food.”
Mr Galati said he was tired of running the business and it was up to the next generation to take over within the next four to five years.
“I’m pretty tired, it’s been a lot of work,” he said. “I’ve fought a lot of bureaucracy over the years.
“We took on and eventually beat the Potato Marketing Corporation over 20 years.”
He said if you believed in something you should never give up and keep on fighting.
“That’s how we are, that’s our makeup,” he said.
A feature display in the new store is the first tractor, a 1963 vintage 415 Fiat, that Mr Galati learnt to drive when he was a boy. It has been restored by employees at the company’s Pinjarra workshop.
Mr Galati said he couldn’t wait to learn to drive the tractor when he was in Grade 3.
The company now has about 100 John Deere tractors working on farms that it owns throughout the State.
“We started on that little tractor on five acres of land,” he said.
The new 24-hour store joins other Spud Stores in Australind, Morley, Innaloo, Jandakot, Kelmscott, Mandurah and Wanneroo.