THE STORY BEHIND THE BIZ // Highland Fires & BBQs
How Jason and Fiona’s tree change to the Southern Highlands led them to become local business owners
Five years ago the country called, and Fiona and Jason Day made the move from the inner west of Sydney to the Highlands with their three kids.
Life rolled on with Jason commuting to his job with ANZ in Sydney and Fiona also heading to the big smoke a few days a week for her marketing job until they had an epiphany.
“Why did we move to the Highlands just to spend most of our time in Sydney?” Fiona laughs.
“Something needed to change.”
So the hunt was on for a local business to buy.
“Initially, we looked for a business I could run. A café or store or something like that, but then this opportunity with Highland Fires & BBQs came up," Fiona explains.
“This business had Jason written all over it. He loves anything to do with fires, barbecuing - he's been a Weber BBQ fan for years - and building things, so Highland Fires & BBQs was perfect for him.”
So the Days took the plunge, bought the business and took over as owners of Highland Fires & BBQs last month! Congrats guys!
We spent some time with Jason and Fiona in the showroom and at home to get the story behind the biz and the family who run it.
MAKING THE MOVE TO THE HIGHLANDS
Raising their three children – Imogen, now 13, Rohan 11 and Giselle, 7 – in the country was a key factor in Jason and Fiona’s decision to head south.
“It was a spontaneous decision actually! But we had always liked the idea of giving the kids a childhood where they had space and a country style pace of life,” Fiona says.
BECOMING SOUTHERN HIGHLANDS BUSINESS OWNERS
“I’ve always said Jason missed his calling to be a tradie. He built our deck at home. He loves pulling things apart and putting them back together again and like I said before, anything to do with fire, wood, smoking and barbecuing, he’s right into,” Fiona says.
“So this is perfect for him.”
For Jason, one of the aspects he is enjoying the most is chatting to everyone!
“I was behind the scenes in my previous career, but when you run a small retail business, you’re on the frontline. And I’m really enjoying that,” he says.
“Because I spent a lot of my time in Sydney previously, I never had much of an opportunity to connect with people locally but that’s all changed now and I’m welcoming it.
“From attending Chamber of Commerce events, dropping in to catch up with the Master Builders Association in Mossy and chatting to all the customers and builders that come into the showroom, I’m really enjoying the chance to connect with customers and local organisations.”
L to R: Fiona and Jason Day with Jenny Lang. Jenny has been with Highland Fires & BBQs for four years.
SO WHO'S DOING WHAT IN THE BUSINESS?
Fiona’s background is in marketing so it’s a natural fit for her to manage the business development, sales and marketing and social media side of things.
“I also love the lifestyle element of the business. Working with customers on how a particular product will fit in with the interior design of their home or their lifestyle,” says Fiona.
“And I love that the business is related to life in the Highlands. If you’re here and you love the Highlands and our winters, you’re going to need a fire!” she laughs.
Jason’s focus is on the daily operations and learning as much as he can about the products and the demand for those products and services locally.
“My focus is short term at the moment. Customer service is a big part of creating a good service experience, whether it’s for a builder, architect, tradie or a private client so I want to make sure we are getting that right,” he says.
Jenny Lang is an integral part of that service mix, having worked at Highland Fires & BBQs for four years now.
"A lot of people know Jenny. She's got so much product knowledge and is such an important part of our team," says Jason.
"And Fiona is looking a bit further ahead at the growth of the business. It’s exciting to see where we can take it," says Jason.
HOW'S THE TRANSITION TO BUSINESS OWNERSHIP BEEN?
The impact on the family front has definitely been positive.
“Maybe it's me that has noticed that the most,” Fiona points out.
“Jason used to be out the door at 6am, not back until late and three nights a fortnight he stayed in Sydney, so to have him home in the mornings and evenings is great.’
“It shifts the way the house is run and the family dynamics and we’re all still adjusting to that, but in a good way,” Jason says.
“I’ve got ten hours a week of my life back, normally spent in a car and train. And I’m only 7 minutes from work – so that’s great!”
Working with local businesses like Spartan Creative, Banter Group and photographer Natalie Hunfalvey has also been a highlight for Fiona and Jason.
“We have some fantastic people and businesses in the Highlands. Working with them to build our own business has been such a positive experience,” Fiona says.
THERE MUST BE EXCITING PLANS IN THE WORKS
Working with local builders, designers and architects is a focus for the new owners of Highland Fires & BBQs.
“There are so many great properties and building projects happening here. We love being part of the design, creative and then install process in bringing a spectacular build to life,” says Fiona.
Once they find their feet and get their local business groove on, Jason and Fiona are keen to expand the range.
“There are some new brands coming out of Europe that are quite something. We want to create more choice for architects, designers, builders and homeowners and make it easier for people to access good quality brands without having to travel up or down the Hume,” Fiona explains.
“Part of that expansion is also bringing in some of the lifestyle aspects of Highland Fires & BBQs that we love – like barbecuing!” Jason says.
Jason has long been a fan of Weber barbecues. Experimenting and creating some pretty awesome meat dishes with different barbecues, woods and coals over the years has been what Fiona would call a bit of a passion of Jason's. So the fact that Highland Fires & BBQs is the only specialist dealer for Weber BBQs in the region was another reason Jason was excited about the business.
“We’re talking about collaborating with chefs and other BBQ enthusiasts locally to create Master Weber BBQ workshops. This is a way I can tie my passion for barbecuing in with the great products we have here in the business."
SO HAVE YOU MADE THE RIGHT MOVE?
“We have three kids, Teddy our dog, a new business and two new job roles so let’s be honest, it’s going to be and has been quite challenging,” Jason says.
“But we’re just at the beginning of that and I know that in the short run and in the long run, this is absolutely the right decision for us and our family, and it’s going to be great.”
Highland Fires & BBQs is the only specialist Weber BBQ dealer in the Highlands and stock a wide range of fireplaces including Jetmaster and a range of European brands. A family and locally owned business, the focus is on awesome customer service, product knowledge and working with clients to get a fantastic, high quality finish and result.
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