Lucas' Papaw, Bundaberg Brewed Drinks, Blackmores. If not household items, these brands are certainly easy to find in pharmacies and supermarkets across Australia.
All three businesses are still family owned.
Their number of employees range from 30 to more than 1000, but John McLean, chief executive of famous ginger beer brewer Bundaberg Brewed Drinks, said larger didn’t always mean more important.
“You'd be stunned at what is a family business,” Mr McLean said.
"They are the engine room of our economy: they may not get the publicity constantly that the ASX-listed companies get, but family business is the bread and butter."
Here’s how these once small Queensland businesses grew to have international profiles.
‘It got a cult following and just went crazy’
Lucas' Papaw is instantly recognisable for its red packaging. Today it's most commonly used for chapped lips, but manager Lynette Swinglehurst said that's not how the ointment was originally marketed.
“It’s always been one of those staples in our medicine cabinet … we used to only sell into chemists,” she said.
Since its invention in the early 1900s by Ms Swinglehurst's great-great-grandfather, Lucas' Papaw has been used predominantly as a treatment for rashes, burns and other aches and pains.
Never advertised much - when her grandmother May Talbot ran the business, Ms Swinglehurst said it was sold door-to-door - the product became hugely popular after another use for the ointment was found.
“About 15 years ago it was used - and I still remember the phone call - used by a make-up artist on McLeod's Daughters,” she said.
“She rang me and said it was good for keeping eyebrows in place and gloss on lips.”
Ms Swinglehurst said she was “blown away” by the product's cosmetic use, and how it then took off.
“Before we knew it, it just turned into this 'thing'. It got a cult following and just went crazy,” she said.
“Half the people buying it probably don’t realise it has this medicinal purpose as well.”
With requests to put Lucas' Papaw in a tube, the family started off with a second-hand tube-filling machine before realising, quite quickly, that was not going to keep up with the demand.
“At that stage, we only really had it in pharmacies,” she said.
“And then it got into people wanting to sell it in Target, so we have wholesalers that supplied to Target and Woolies, and that's when they'd had to give us notice of how much they wanted so we could work really hard … It was a very small little business.”
The team that makes Lucas' Papaw is still relatively small, with just 30 people producing the product seemingly in every major pharmacy, supermarket and department store.
“We have about 30 working here now, three lines at a time, two tube-filling machines and one jar-filling machine, can make up to about 90,000 tubes a day if we wanted to.”
It’s a far cry from the days of helping her grandmother make it in the small wooden shed next to her house in St Lucia.
“Back in the day in the first little shed, it was all relatives," she said. "Now we have 17 people cutting papaws.”
‘Taking control of our own destiny’
John McLean describes himself as the “muggle” of his family’s business, Bundaberg Brewed Drinks.
Previously a teacher, Mr McLean said he had no desire to join his wife’s family business but his persuasive father-in-law, Cliff Fleming, eventually talked him around and gave him an all-round experience in the business before making him chief executive 10 years ago.
“I guess by sheer determination he wasn’t going to let me fail,” Mr McLean said.
“(But) the way that we run our business today to the way we ran our business way back then is vastly different.”
The company, originally Electra Breweries, was bought in the 1960s by Neville and Gladys Fleming, along with their son Cliff and daughter-in-law Lee Fleming.
Initially making brewed and non-brewed soft drinks for Schweppes, Mr McLean said by the 1990s the family had decided to focus on the one thing they did really well - brewing ginger beer in that familiar stubby bottle.
“In '97 we decided to make a business decision to go out of all brands of soft drink and just focus on Bundaberg Brewed Drinks and market them exclusively - taking control of our own destiny,” he said.
While that meant the company’s revenue dropped from about $15 million to $12 million, Mr McLean said it built back up again quickly.
“Once we took the time and didn’t have to talk about someone else’s brand, and we were able to really focus and really deliver results, we were able to grow our brand and take our business further and further afield,” he said.
The change happened not long after Mr McLean joined the company, and he said it had grown from employing 43 people in Bundaberg to about 250 people in Australia, New Zealand and the United States.
“It’s a vastly different organisation,” he said.
From a management perspective, some things have changed - they no longer discuss business in detail at the family’s Sunday lunch - but in other ways, Mr McLean said things are the same.
“We work with 250 families, and that’s what we consider a family business.”
‘He sacked me about three times’
Now an international health supplement company with more than 1000 employees, Blackmores was founded in Brisbane in 1938 by Maurice Blackmore with a naturopathic health food store and health clinic.
“My father was the consummate professional, and he believed that the profession was unprofessional and needed to be professional, so he had two nursing sisters, with white hats like the old days, they were the first contact for the patients,” Marcus Blackmore said.
Mr Blackmore took the reins of his father’s business in 1975, and said his father had fought hard to make naturopathy an accepted practice in Queensland.
“He was called a quack,” Mr Blackmore said, adding he had also spent his life defending natural medicine.
As well as conflicts with state government - in 1955, Queensland tried to restrict the practice of naturopaths in the state with the Medical Amendments Act - Mr Blackmore said there was also plenty of internal conflict.
After he started working for his father when he was about 18 years old, Mr Blackmore said he was sacked a number of times.
“He sacked me about three times,” he said.
The first time he left he went to work in a boatyard, and the second time Mr Blackmore said he got a job working with Queensland Pastoral Supplies.
“Third time, I got conscripted not long after that, did a six-month tour of Vietnam, and went back to business after that,” he said.
“I got the sack again, for an argument over the design of a toothpaste tube.”
Mr Blackmore said he remembered the fight: he was in his early 20s and still living at home, and he and his father argued in the “tiny” bathroom.
“I said, ‘If you’re not going to listen you might as well get rid of me'.”
So his father did, over breakfast.
“I not only lost my job, I got thrown out of the house as well.”
Mr Blackmore said that experience - which left him unemployed for a while - made him a better manager in the long run.
“That time of unemployment had a fairly significant effect on my life, which is why Blackmores now has a reputation for looking after staff more than most companies,” he said.
An international expansion
Blackmores, an ASX listed company, reported sales for the 2016 financial year of $717.2 million; according to their last annual report, their 14th consecutive year of growth.
The vast majority of Blackmores sales - 69 per cent - was from Australia and 18 per cent was sales in Asia.
But thanks to Chinese buyers in Australia sending Blackmores products overseas, the report said 50 per cent of the company's sales came from the Asian market.
The Asian market has also been interested in Lucas Papaw thanks to the revelation of online shopping, Ms Swinglehurst said.
"We've never gone berzerkand not been able to keep up, the only time we sort of realised what was going on here was about two years ago when e-commerce came and people could order for personal use from all over the world, and it was in demand for China," she said.
"The Asian market's come into it since e-commerce has come on, and it's gone crazy."
When all the Chinese started loving it, people were just trying to take it in we had to let all our wholesalers know you've got to find out where it's going.
Mr McLean said Bundaberg Brewed Drinks had changed from the days when everyone lived within an hour's drive of the factory.
"When I joined in 1995 it was 43 people. Today we’ve got about 250 people, and they’re employed in Australia, New Zealand and the US," he said.
"As we’ve developed an grown, our furthest employee is in New York state."
While not listed, the company has annual sales of more than $100 million.
Mr McLean said the future holds "more of the same" for the company, but they also have a great innovation department that will tweak things when needed.
"We're constantly looking at how we can stay relevant to consumers, or changing recipes when required," he said.
"We just released a tropical mango drink, and our feedback is wonderful."
Learning from family business
Mr Blackmore said the company’s success had a lot to do with its people management.
“My best tip for managers is to spend your time trying to find people doing something right, not people doing something wrong,” he said.
“People think my job is to find people making mistakes, whereas if you find people doing things right, it’s about a pat on the back.”
Ms Swinglehurst said the most important tip she could give others in a family business was to not take on too much at once.
“That’s how we’ve run the place; we’ve never looked too far ahead ... we’ve just never bitten off more than we can chew,” she said.
“My dad’s motto ever since I’ve worked with him has been ‘slowly, slowly’.”
Mr McLean said Bundaberg Brewed Drink’s philosophy was to not continually redefine its business, but stay true to what it did best.
"One of the things we want to make sure is we don’t want to sit on a beach and smell roses, we want to stay true to our business," he said.
“We just do our one thing we can work really strongly at and that’s helped us to be sustainable ...we’ve only done what we could.”
Both Mr McLean and Ms Swinglehurst have the next generation already working with them.
“It’s been good, I really appreciate being part of it, still being in our family for so long, my son is working here at the moment, seeing it kept in the family is tremendous, and my husband working here as well," Ms Swinglehurst said.
While Mr McLean said he enjoyed having his daughters work in the business, he won’t force them to make it their life.
“They like it, but one daughter wants to be a school teacher,” he said.
“We’re going to encourage them to be their own people.”