END OF ERA: Iconic business' biggest change in 97 years
ONE of the Granite Belt's most iconic businesses is set to undergo its biggest change in its 97 year history.
Howard and Sons has operated under some guise or format since 1922, but there's about to be no more Howards involved in future.
The Mill Rd business run by Terry Howard has been bought up by Chris and Rodney Haynes, Mal Howard's Mitre 10 is on the market and their Warwick yard is set to be closed.
Terry Howard said drought, coupled with competition and family commitments, has forced his hand into an early retirement of sorts.
"The whole company, as a joint venture, has probably been up for sale for five years but we just didn't really have anyone willing to take on the whole thing," Mr Howard said.
"So in the end we had to split it up. It wasn't what we wanted to do but it is what it is."
On September 16, the Haynes', more renowned for their tomato and capsicum production at Bent and Haynes Farm at Ballandean, will take over.
For Mr Howard it brings to an end 45 years in the family business.
"I've been in the business since I was 16. I started at The Summit Mill actually and by the time I was 18 I moved into here and started making roof trusses.
"Before me there was Peter Howard, before that it was Cliff Howard and then before him it was W.J Howard.
"I'll be here for six weeks to help with the change over and then I'll be heading to Pelican Waters.
"It's going to be sad to leave. But there's been a fair bit of thought gone into it," he said.
The Warwick yard, which first opened in 1964, will be closed.
"Basically the drought and the influence of the Bunnings store there brought it on. That's got a bit to do with it - can't say it hasn't.
"It just wasn't financially viable any more."
They still plan to sell into Warwick to some degree.
Chris Haynes said the drought had forced his hand into diversifying outside of farm production.
"If we weren't having the drought we may not have looked as seriously into other options.
"Everyone should be looking at diversifying - but you can't do too many things and do them properly.
"This business will still be affected by drought but they've run such a successful ship that we thought we'd have a go at it."
Mr Haynes said they're "not in a position to make a start on the farm", so for the time being he'll oversee day-to-day operations once everything has been handed over.
Not everything is changing however. The new business name will be Howard Trade Centre.
"It was very emotional when we found out they wanted to keep the name as well," Mr Howard said.
Terry will now link up with his wife and daughter at the Sunshine Coast.
He said the move is a fresh start for the family and a chance for them to get the proper support they need for daughter Meg, who has Asperger's.
"There's no real help for that in Stanthorpe or in country areas," Mr Howard said.
"I might have to find a boat. I've always liked beach fishing but I might turn into a boat fisherman."