Anyone who sees Innisfail for the first time is likely to be impressed by the fail-proof beauty of this regional area of Australia. Right in the middle of the Cassowary Coast Regional Council in Northern Queensland, Innisfail is a picturesque part of the country nestled between lush, green World Heritage rainforests and the ocean. The incredible Great Barrier Reef is just a boat ride away, boasting internationally renowned colourful coral and a kaleidoscopic variety of fish and marine life darting in and out through the reef.
Located in the midst of all this beauty is Shed Boss Innisfail, managed by married couple John and Gabrielle Hickerton. The Hickertons have been a part of the local Innisfail community for more than 30 years. They also run a successful home building business, as well as offer apprenticeships and trainee programs to local construction students to help build their careers in the industry.
Meet the Shed Boss Innisfail team who won't fail you
Both John and Gabrielle bring a wealth of experience and expertise to the table, drawing on their extensive background in housing construction, steel engineering and business management when they advise clients on custom designing sheds. They have been managing the Shed Boss Innisfail franchise for more than a decade.
Gabrielle also brings a creative flair to the role, as she was a music teacher for many years in Innisfail – but these days, she grooves to the tune of sounds of steel as stunning sheds, garages, workshops, patios, awnings or barns are built in the area. John is a builder by trade, specialising in timber construction. His middle name could have been 'renovation', and once the opportunity to invest in a Shed Boss franchise came by, he knew blending houses and shed construction together was a great service combination. Gabrielle jokes it is a 'do you want fries with that?' quality service mentality.
We sat down with both of them for an interview about the Shed Boss Innisfail franchise, the team they work with, and what their favourite projects have been so far.
You'd be surprised at the diverse range of projects and unique builds they have done – read on to learn how the story traverses belly dancing, pottery studios, and perhaps even an airplane hangar for skydiving enthusiasts.
Please could you tell us a bit about the rest of the team at Shed Boss Innisfail?
We used contractors originally to carry out the work, but decided early on that we would like to have a team of full-time employees. We wanted to give back to the community and nurture budding talent, so we collaborated with Skill360 Australia, an employment agency, to set up a range of apprenticeships. Many of our apprentices ended up staying with us afterward, Rick was one of them – he was with us for almost 10 years, developing his skills as a contractor and also working in our sales team. Dylan was another apprentice-turned-employee, who was with us for eight years. The list goes on! We have a strong team with years of experience together.
What Shed Boss products are really popular in your area?
Residential sheds built as dwellings in rural parts of town are popular, as are workshops. We have also done commercial sheds for the farming and sails industry. In fact, a large steel shed just up the road was done by us, and we often recommend to clients who pop in store to walk up and see it for a good idea of what we can deliver.
How does Shed Boss Innisfail build to cyclone resistant conditions?
There have been several cyclones in Innisfail over the years, Severe Tropical Cyclone Larry in 2006 is an example. However, the good news is all our steel engineering is site-specific. This means the exact specifications, measurements and land research is taken into account before we work out the plans for maximum precision and sturdiness. We also use high-grade, heavy galvanised steel, and the gauge of the steel will increase to best suit the site, if needed. All our construction meets the ShedSafe™ guarantee, which means our workmanship is endorsed by an accreditation program by the Australian Steel Institute. Our steel engineering and construction also complies with the Building Code of Australia.
Please can you describe your favourite Shed Boss project that you worked on …
Gabrielle: It's hard to narrow it down, there have been a few standouts. A performance workshop for belly dancers was amazing, they transformed the interior with exotic sheets and Arabian tent decor, it was a great ambiance. We connected with another local artist, we built a pottery studio for her. Once a woman asked for a 'she shed' – like a man cave, but just for her activities and hobbies. We recently got a call from a skydiver who was researching if we could build him an airplane hangar! That's the beauty of custom design.
John: I'm currently working on what I think is my favourite – a huge country barn style residential dwelling with polished concrete floors, living room, two bedrooms, mezzanine floor, awnings!