Lifting In Business & Family
Words by Danae Jones | Photo by Catherine Coombs
This April Norlift celebrates 20 years in business. It’s a milestone to be celebrated and one that Founder Greg Rynne and his family are very proud of. They’ve not only stood the test of time in what have been many a tough economic climate, they are now home to one of the largest hire fleets in FNQ and their operation spans Cairns, Weipa, Brisbane and Gove.
With in excess of 100 years experience in the team and a family that understands machinery like no other, the 3rd generation of family members are now coming up through the business ranks.
Uncle Geoffrey now 83 years of age is the reason Greg launched his career in forklifting in the first place. His Uncle had a forklifting business in Brisbane in 1974, but decided to pack up and move to Cairns after the floods of ‘75 to start a fresh. By 1988 his Uncle had convinced Greg to join his forklifting business, Trinity Forklifts, which he had established in Cairns. Greg was in his early 30s at the time, and soon showed he was a natural fit for the mechanical and machinery industry. When Greg joined the business it grew so quickly that his Uncle quickly acquired Cairns Forklifts from one of their competitors and changed the name to Cairns & Trinity Forklifts.
Business was going so well that Brambles approached them to sell, and they did. Brambles kept Greg on to manage the operations as part of the deal and continue the successful journey.
“As fate would have it ten years later, we bought the business back, those were very tough economic times back then and things didn’t go as Brambles had hoped. In the year 2000 I bought out the company solely and renamed it Norlift, and twenty years on it is the brand we have stuck with today.”
Greg has taken the company through exponential growth in his time, winning contracts with some of the countries biggest mining companies, but he says it is the people around him that have made all the difference.
“In business you must surround yourself with good people, like minded successful people. And that’s exactly what I’ve done. Our staff are family, we treat them like that.”
Despite the male dominated industry that Norlift resides in, Amanda Paron, Greg’s daughter, has taken to it like a duck to water. A number of years ago she left a career in banking to join her father in the forklifting game.
“I never in a million years thought after having sons that I’d end up with one of my daughters being such an instrumental part of the business. But what she can’t do in terms of machinery she makes up for in other areas. Amanda brings a level of polish and professionalism to the business and I guess I’m just a rough diamond,” he laughs.
Since leaving banking and joining the business at the age of 22 Amanda hasn’t looked back.
“One thing you learn in the financial industry is it’s all about customer service and client relationships, systems and processes and technology to support growth. I have implemented all those elements into the business, but I have been strongly guided by Dad and kept his old-fashioned service and traditional ways of doing things that our customers love most,
“I have learnt so much from him. These days I find myself finishing his sentences as we work together so well. We never argue, we just work to each others strengths and while it’s been hard for him to give up the reigns in some respects as he’s a control freak like me, when he has, I think he has been very happy with the outcome,” said Amanda.
Amanda is the Operations Manager and is following in her father’s footsteps of leading the business to new heights, while one of her brothers Daniel, also works in the business as a truck driver and panel beater.
The Rynne family have recently invested heavily in Hyundai and their high performance forklifts not only for hire, but also sales customers.
“Hyundai products will future proof your business. We have customers that have been with us from day one and they know they can trust us to always deliver for them, that’s why they’re still with us.”
Reflecting on 20 years of sole ownership in business Greg Rynne says small business can learn a lot from big business.
“My time with Brambles taught me a lot about how big businesses operate. But the bigger you are the harder it is change path quickly. When you are smaller you are more nimble and flexible when market conditions change as you don’t have the constraints.
“My favourite movie is Field Of Dreams – build it and they will come, or buy it and someone will hire it! That’s what I’ve always said,” he laughs.
“Dad’s always thinking of the big picture and looking ahead. He constantly thinks outside the box,” said Amanda of her father.
And Greg’s advice to those starting out in business – “If you’re good with something stick with it. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Stick to what you know, don’t think you’re smarter than you really are. And embrace change – it’s an opportunity to grow.”
Hyundai High Performance Forklifts
1. We are the driver’s choice and that drives productivity
2. We future-proof your business with Hyundai Smart Technology, Safety & Environmental considerations
3. We provide 100% local service and support that only an independent dealer can provide