Cairns plumber survives depths
FROM the brink of financial ruin, Tim and Cindy Eagle have saved their Eagle and Stork Plumbing company and moved into new $1 million premises at Portsmith.
Accountants have described the rags-to-riches rebound as one of the most spectacular business turnarounds they've witnessed.
The Eagles nearly walked away from the business they founded 13 years ago.
"It wasn't easy," Mr Eagle said. But the couple and their loyal staff are now celebrating the shift to bigger premises from Draper St to Redden St, a $1.12 million investment.
The business was formed with business partner Darren Brice, now a staff member, in late 1999 in their spare bedroom and garage at Edge Hill. Two years later they moved to Draper St and at one stage employed 45 people.
But in 2008 they discovered a large sum of money was unaccounted for and their accounts manager, Christopher Moore, was subsequently charged and found guilty of defrauding the company of more than $250,000. In 2009, he was jailed for two years.
They suffered more financial losses when construction company CMC went into liquidation.
"But the best news is that we have survived," Mr Eagle said.
"We have worked hard to maintain and build on our reputation as a reputable, honest, reliable local company and we have relocated to our new larger premises in Redden St."
Mrs Eagle said they had to close down several sections of their business and sell assets to focus on the core sections of mechanical services and commercial maintenance plumbing.
"Without a doubt we would not have survived the fraud without these drastic measures," she said.
Mr Eagle said they "nearly went under" and used their house and personal investments to put $500,000 into the company.
They worked closely with airconditioning companies BE Airconditioning, Airfirst and Jackson and Jackson and were now doing work at James Cook University, Cazalys and St Monica's College.
The new offices, workshop and sheds add up to nine times the size of the space at Draper St.
Mr Eagle said there were no plans to increase staffing to the previous levels.
"We want to keep it at about 20," he said.
"Business is fantastic. We're here to stay and have work until March next year."
Mr Eagle also paid tribute to the company's staff, many of whom are long-serving.
"Without the workload and dedication of Jimmy O'Dwyer, a foreman for our mechanical division, Dean Ward in our commercial maintenance division and Jenny Furneaux in administration, we would not have succeeded," he said.
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Steady flow: After being defrauded of more than $250,000 Tim and Cindy Eagle now focus on the core sections of mechanical services and commercial maintenance plumbing. Picture: TOM LEE