Not many families can honestly say that they have what it takes to run a successful business together, let alone do it for over 65 years.
Now in their third generation, Crockers Paint & Wallpaper - led by brother and sister duo Shaun Crocker and Tracey Morrison - are entering an exciting new phase as they launch their comprehensive paint store, wallpaper showroom, and educational workshop space online to Aussie’s across the country, in conjunction with running their megastore in Sydney’s Sutherland Shire.
But while the future looks bright, their journey has not been for the faint hearted. Perhaps to understand the significance of the company’s impressive achievements, we must take a step back to where it all began.
From humble beginnings in Sydney’s west, our story starts in the 1950s with a man called Alf Hayes. With big ambitions, Alf was a true blue Aussie bloke passionate about one thing – paint.
It sounds simple, but when you want something bad enough, you make it happen. Starting with a single workshop, Alf developed a premium paint named Krysler, which quickly took NSW by storm, and resulted in him opening over 30 paint stores across the state. During these years, Alf also had three daughters, so it’s fair to say he had his hands well and truly full.
While the paint connoisseur spent much of his days developing the Krysler empire, behind the scenes something else was developing…a budding romance between Alf’s middle daughter, 13-year-old Susan, and neighbour 15-year-old Paul Crocker.
But despite being young and madly in love something was missing for Paul. Not happy at school, he was itching to get into the workforce and tried his hands at many things – including jobs at a butchery, tannery, bricklayers – he even worked at a chocolate factory!
Eventually, aged 18, Alf gave Paul a gig at the growing Krysler Paints as a truck driver. The young man saved all his money to buy a motorbike which Sue wasn’t allowed on! And for good reason. While Sue was training at Wollongong Teachers’ College, Paul would spend all of his free time hooning up and down the coast with his bikie mates. It was all fun and games until he lost his license for speeding.
He could no longer drive the truck but instead was offered a job in the factory to learn how to make paint with many other Hayes relatives – it was a real family environment and Paul loved it.
But work wasn’t the only thing he loved - proposing to Sue on her 18th birthday. At the same time, the couple also announced that they were expecting their first child. At just 20-years-old, and responsible for Alf’s darling daughter, Paul knew he’d really have to prove himself.
By the time Tracey Crocker was born in 1965, Paul had learnt how to make the famous Krysler paint and was working as a rep across many of the company’s stores. Seven years later Shaun was born and coming into his own, Paul had become a super slick business operator.
He and Sue also went on to buy the original Krysler Miranda store – needless to say it was a busy time!
However, the family man was shocked to discover that the other stores in the region were not doing as well as his was. In fact, they were starting to decline.
As he drove by the different Krysler shops, Paul was in disbelief. From appalling shop fronts, to thieving managers and staff sitting outside drinking long-necks – it was clear the brand was going downhill fast and giving the entire company a bad rap. To make matters worse, a few of Alf’s business deals had landed Krysler in hot water, which meant financially, they were on shaky ground.
After years of hard work Paul and wife Sue, a schoolteacher by trade, knew they needed to do something to keep the family business afloat.
Through a consolidation and sales process, the couple eventually took over five stores which they rebranded to Crockers Paint & Wallpaper in the early 80s – still of course making and stocking the prestigious Krysler paint (which they do to this very day with the help of their paint partner Haymes Paints).
From there, it was heads down, bums up with Crockers kids Tracey and Shaun spending much of their childhood helping out in the stores after school and on the weekend. While Tracey chose to pursue nursing, it was a no brainer for Shaun to join his old man upon finishing school to continue to drive the business forward. Tracey later jumped on board, and over the years the business saw many good times across it’s Sydney branches.
Joyfully, the family also expanded, with Tracey going on to marry Murray Morrison, who after a career working for Sydney University made the move over to Crockers as well. The couple have two daughters, Korynn, now 32, a Fine Arts degree graduate and fulltime artist, and Vanessa, 30, who after completing a degree in acting is now finishing her Masters in Psychology.
Shaun also married, convincing city girl Nicole Barry to move down to the Shire, where the couple now raise their children Lleyton, 18, and Tiarne, 14. After many years working in corporate, Nicole now leads Crockers finance and HR departments.
As time has gone by there’s been a lot to celebrate but Tracey and Shaun maintain that running a family business is tougher than it seems. This was made evident in 2008 when stark competition and changing market conditions forced the siblings to make some challenging decisions around down-sizing and closing a number of stores. And if that were not difficult enough, in 2013 a semi-retired Paul got diagnosed with melanoma at 68-years-old, and sadly passed away at the end of 2014.
Distraught by their loss, and with big shoes to fill, Tracey, Murray, Shaun, Nicole, and their incredible team, knew they had no choice but to power through in order to pay tribute to the paint pioneers that had come before them.
Now running a thriving megastore in Miranda, Crockers is easily the most trusted brand in the Sutherland Shire district for renovators, designers and tradies alike. Coupled with their online shop, the company can now extend their outstanding one-on-one customer care, comprehensive paint store, wallpaper showroom and educational work spaces to customers nation-wide.
While it hasn’t been easy, there’s one thing that has remained consistent for well beyond 65 years – a simple commitment to add value to people’s homes with colour and happiness – this has become the foundation of Crockers Paint & Wallpaper’s company purpose, promising that no one will walk away without value.
When asked what Paul Crocker would think if he were still alive, Tracey and Shaun believe their beloved father would simply sum it up by saying, ‘I knew you could do it’.
With over six decades of specialist knowledge, combined with their happy, helpful and honest approach – you can be assured that for the best service, best advice and the best product to get the job done - you haven’t seen the best until you’ve seen Crockers. WATCH OUR SHORT "WHO ARE WE" VIDEO