40 Years of Graffiti Eaters

It’s hard to believe that we are now in our 40th year and on our second generation!

Rod Mackenzie, my father, had owned supermarkets and was looking for a change of career. Cutthroat landlords, theft, shortage of essential items caused by union strikes, and constant refrigerator breakdowns were constant challenges. With competition increasing from Safeway and Coles, Rod knew it was time to seek greener pastures.

After spending nine weeks studying various industries in the yellow pages, Rod realised that the cleaning industry had significant opportunities. Rod knew from his supermarket days that there was a shortage of professionals who cleaned refrigerator condenser units. However, supermarkets were not the only businesses crying out for high pressure cleaning. Tenders offering lucrative remuneration were being advertised across various industries.

Images: Maureen and Rod promoting the brand in the early years.

With the help of family members, Rod set up business from his garage in Wattleglen, Victoria. Rod and his wife Maureen sent hundreds of typewriter-written letters to grow the client base. The first major client was the Public Transport Corporation, removing graffiti from Melbourne railway stations.

It became clear that Rod couldn’t service every client himself (much to his disappointment) and hired employees to help to business grow. Rod was also joined by family members Sharon Mackenzie in 1992 and I came onboard full-time in 1993.

Images: Two generations of Mackenzies – Mark, Maureen & Rod (Top), Mark Mackenzie, Sharon Mackenzie & Nathan Wright (bottom).

Expanding the team not only provided more hands on deck, it provided a wealth of knowledge and skills which enabled us to innovate and grow. Much of the nineties was spent expanding into Adelaide and Sydney, and innovating new technology to increase the efficiency and number of services offered from a single truck.

The innovation within The Graffiti Eaters has always set us apart. During our first interstate expansion, we realised that a custom-built truck would increase the level of services we can offer. It took me six months to complete the welding, plumbing and electrical but it was worth it.

Images: Welcoming our new representatives in Adelaide (top) & Sydney (bottom). Rick Bleasdale of Adelaide, was a Graffiti Eater for 18 years – a true Graffiti Eater legend!

We still run customised trucks, but nowadays they use low-emission engines, lightweight aluminium framing and fit in narrow laneways and underground carparks. Each vehicle now carries 26 different products for a number of graffiti removal, stain removal and protective coating solutions.

One of the achievements I am most proud of is our quality assurance system. This began in 2005 in an effort to offer higher compliance that would win government tenders. After demonstrating to external auditors we were controlling the many risks in our industry, we became the first graffiti or stain removal business to achieve Quality Management Certification to ISO9001.

Images: Innovation in our truck design (top) and products (bottom) has enabled us to provide a high standard of service.

In 2010 we achieved Occupational Health and Safety AS4801 and Environmental Management ISO14001, another first for our industry.  I’ve always believed that being reviewed by an expert from outside the four walls of your business is a worthwhile experience.

Our family had done very well out of the business; we wanted to ensure and we wanted to be able to contribute back and allow other families to be part of and build on, what we had created. In recent years I have enjoyed working with Geoff McDonnell at Business Essentials. Geoff has a wealth of experience in business growth models and helped us develop a mobile franchise system to complement our technician based business model.

Images: Greaham Saville, our franchise partner in Cranbourne (top), Craig Cavanagh of Camden (middle), David de Beyer of Aberfoyle Park (bottom).

In 2016 we welcomed our first franchise partner Greaham and Lisa Saville. Greaham and Lisa have enabled The Graffiti Eaters to forge a strong working partnership with the City of Casey and cement our presence in the southern suburbs of Melbourne and the Mornington Peninsula.

Another three franchisees have joined in 2017 and another six will join us in the first half of 2018. Our network has been built for a rollout of 200 franchise partners Australia-wide over the next 10 years. I can’t help getting excited each time I speak with a new franchisee. It’s rewarding to pass on the knowledge and skills that trace back to my father’s garage in Wattleglen 40 years ago.

 

The Graffiti Eaters provide Graffiti Removal, Anti-Graffiti Coatings and a range of Stain Removal services for Local Government, Shopping Centres, Retailers, Schools and Residential Properties throughout Australia. Contact us to request a quote or enquire about becoming our next franchise partner.