Tod calls it a day and retires

FOR 27 years one Dubbo man has managed the continual success and survival of a famous city hardware store.

Now Tod O'Dea is hanging his hat up and retiring from being the right- hand man at Brennan's Mitre 10.

Mr O'Dea shared the happy and challenging moments of his long working journey with the Daily Liberal.

It was the Christmas season 1985 and the company he worked for ran into financial problems and liquidated, leaving him unemployed.

The late pharmacist Peter Lawler recommended him to Michael Brennan for work at Mitre 10.

"At that time I was co-ordinating building houses for the Catholic church to raise money to establish St John's College," he said.

"Michael came to me and said, 'Would you like a job?' I said yes and he said he wanted me to be the manager."

Mr O'Dea tried to explain to Mr Brennan he had no previous managerial experience.

"If you can co-ordinate building that house then you can be my manager," Mr Brennan said reassuring him.

Working at Mitre 10 has taken Mr O'Dea across the country and around the world.

One of the most amazing places he went to was Bali for a business conference.

Each conference Mr Brennan allowed him to take his wife, treating his family as part of his own.

"I would've never seen many different parts of Australia like Port Douglas and Surfers Paradise if it wasn't for Michael," he said.

"In return for his care for my family I have put all my energy and effort into the business."

Across the years there were several changes to the business and consumer behaviour.

When he first started work at Mitre 10 it was a small store and he oversaw the many extensions, co-ordinating the builders and plumbers.

Twenty-seven years ago it was easier to sell hardware and tools but with modern technology people could "Google it" and do it themselves, he said.

However he thanked technology for making advertising a breeze for the store.

"We used to cut and paste photos of tools, then wait for the logo of the company to come and add prices to it," he said.

"Now it's all computerised and a lot easier."

Several competitors had made it tough for the business to make a profit with their cut-throat approach, he said.

The advent of online shopping could be a trap for the unwary shopper and was not good for the local economy.

"You could lose warranty and the benefits of shopping in store or you could get a different product than what's advertised," he said.

The biggest challenge of being in the top job for more than a quarter of a century was keeping the staff happy and retaining them.

With the fast-paced world and the move to a seven-day roster, it was important to work around the needs of the staff. In the past the store opened six days a week and closed at 1pm on Saturday.

"You need to be a good listener and work around the needs of the staff, whether they be juniors or married, and take into account such things as attending their kids' sport games," he said.

Even the way consumers paid for products had changed over the years. Most people used to pay for purchases with cash or kept an account with the store, but today EFTPOS and credit card payments were the norm.

The Daily Liberal asked if there was a time when he got bored being in the top job and he quickly responded with a strong no.

"If you can't find something to do in the hardware store, you are not trying," he said.

The highlight of his long years was mentoring more than 200 young people who left school to work in the store.

"It's pleasing to see what I've taught them has made a big difference and they've made a great success in their life," he said. "It makes me extremely happy to see."

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