ARARAT - The history of the E.W Bulte family business began 100 years ago a few blocks south of its current location in Queen Street.
The business was founded by Ernest William Bulte, who was a public works contractor in a number of parts of Victoria before he established a building business on the corner of Queen Street South and Tatyoon Road on August 19, 1912.
Building was the main focus for the E.W Bulte, Builder & Contractor business in the early days of establishment. The building operation was carried on in conjunction with the timber yard.
However, during World War I the timber and building business declined sharply and a small farming dairy was set up to help support the family in the founding years.
Ernest's wife Georgina Mary Bulte and their son William Henry Mark Bulte (commonly known as Mark Bulte) pitched in to help during the difficult time.
Beverly Walker, daughter of Mark, said her father and grandmother would help by making deliveries while Ernest concentrated on the building firm.
"They had cows that use to be down where the oval is (Centenary Park) and they use to run a small dairy down there," she said.
"My grandma used to do that and my dad would tell me that they used to milk the cows and that he would deliver the milk to the different shops around the town before he went off to school."
Two years after Ernest opened the business his son joined the firm as an apprentice carpenter.
Together they built many shops and houses around Ararat's district.
Beverly believed business began to pick up for her grandfather and father following the end of the war.
"I think it was a busy time for the business. There was a lot of staff that would go out into the country and be gone all day building houses," she said.
"They did lots of building work on shops that are still in the main street like Lyal Eales, Fosters (Mensland) and a lot of farm houses around the area."
One of the biggest tenders E.W Bulte, Builder & Contractor obtained was that of 'Dominica' (opposite the Catholic Church), the first two-storey home built in Ararat. Ernest sourced most of his supplies for the construction of the property from his own timber and stock yard.
The building firm was also responsible for adding a second storey to the then Turf Hotel (now known as the Leopold Hotel) in 1923.
"I know my dad used to go down to Melbourne in a little red truck in the early days to pick up supplies for these construction jobs, because the railways didn't do deliveries in that time," Beverly said.
"So he'd get a lot of stock from the businesses in Melbourne, which was a pretty big effort in its own right."
Mark took over as manager when Ernest passed away in 1946 and then bought the business from his mother about two years later.
The timber yard was relocated from Queen Street South to its present location shortly after Mark took control.
He worked hard to build up the hardware supplies stocked by the family business, including introducing a variety of paint supplies and fittings.
E.W Bulte ceased the construction side of the business in 1964.
Mark ran the timber yard until his retirement in 1973, when he handed it over to his daughter Beverly and her husband Kingsley Walker.
"Dad was more than happy to see the business continue when Kingsley became involved and he was also very happy when Peter (Bev and Kingsley's son) came into the business too," Beverly said.
"He was just very pleased that it carried on in the family."
Mark died in Ararat on July 24, 1986 at the age of 85.
Beverly said that when Kingsley took over E.W Bulte it was a quiet time for the business, however her husband managed to continue to run the store successfully right up to the hand over to their son Peter in June, 2000.
If Ernest and Mark were alive today to witness the centennial anniversary of the family business, Beverly is sure they would be very satisfied with its current state of operation.
"Peter has extended the timber yard and gone into the Haymes Paint partnership and has done a heck of a lot to ensure the business can continue in the modern times," she said
"He really has done a wonderful job.
"They would be very proud of the 100 year anniversary and we as a family are very proud of Peter the way he has improved the business no end."