I’m new in the ABBTF Victorian office and having a dad as a bricklayer, I’ve been invited, with his approval, to share part of his very successful life and work experience with readers. Dad, or Ted Breeuwer to you, is now a retired bricklayer but he’s responsible for quite a lot of brickwork on public and private buildings in Melbourne and even in regional Victoria. He’s got a few tips on how to be successful too. So read on.
My dad came to Australia in 1958 as a fitter and turner and mechanic, but he saw bigger opportunities in bricklaying. In 1965 he teamed up with his bricklaying brother-in-law Joe Schroen and with his ability to read drawings and being good with his hands, dad caught on very quickly. Within 12 months he was even building six units on his own on weekends!
The pair became Schroen and Breeuwer Bricklaying, working mostly for Bardoel Builders who are still around today. They did the first 13 of 78 units in Warrigal Road Cheltenham, the first cluster development in Victoria. Dad recalled fondly “The 70’s and 80’s were huge for bricklayers. We never had to advertise and at one stage had a team of 39!”
We often hear that one of the 10 top reasons to choose bricklaying is that you can look back and say ‘I built that’. Well, when I asked dad about jobs he’d done, he quickly named half a dozen straight up and was set to keep going with his list ‘til I pulled him up! I think it’s fair to say he’s proud of them all too:
· Main building of the Monash Medical Centre, Clayton
· 12 storey nursing quarters opposite the Royal Children’s Hospital
· St Mark’s Catholic Church in Dingley
· Workshop for Reg Ansett in Hamilton
· The large curved wall for St Andrews Church in Karingal
· Music room and junior school building at Haileybury College in Keysborough.
He jokes that his dream job was a 12 month stint building a 2.1 metre high fence to block out traffic noise in Eaglemont for Vic Roads. Having continuous work at the one site meant not having to move around mixers and scaffold etc. from site to site for 12 whole months – heaven!
He retired from major work in 2003 but at the age of 70 did all the blockwork on my sister’s house in Cairns. Thanks Dad. Now completely retired at the age of 78, he says he loved the outdoors work and bricklaying kept him fit and well throughout his career and it’s earned him a healthy retirement fund as well.
His advice to other bricklayers about how to succeed is as follows:
“Hard work, honesty and being wise with your earnings pay’s off. Look after your workers, pay them according to their work ethic, more than their speed and pay them on time!”
I notice we often cover off beautiful brickwork of other cultures and times gone by, so thought it fitting to include some shots from dad’s recent travels to Iran and Tunisia where, as bricklayer, he really appreciated the brickwork. He was amazed at some of the work that was done many years ago without resources such as computers that we have now for the plans. The designs are intricate and the brickwork superb.
Good on yer dad for letting me share!
ABBTF Vic Administration Assistant