Greg Grant: Cannon Hill auctioneer turned entrepreneur

THE HARD SELL: Eddie Turner and Bob Templeton in the pen, Les Gibson (third on rail), Graham Meacham (fourth) Doug Nichols (sixth) and Greg Grant (in white).
THE HARD SELL: Eddie Turner and Bob Templeton in the pen, Les Gibson (third on rail), Graham Meacham (fourth) Doug Nichols (sixth) and Greg Grant (in white). Contributed

G'day readers. Cannon Hill Saleyards served as the seedbed where many fortunes would sprout. There's a story behind all of them worth telling but few more notable than the success of Greg Grant.

As a young budding auctioneer for Dalgety in Sydney, Greg caught the attention of Winchcombe Carson in Brisbane, and he arrived at Cannon Hill in the latter part of the '60s.

Their confidence in him would be well rewarded as Greg lifted their numbers at "The Hill", particularly in the fat lamb section, Winchcombes could often lay claim to the highest percentage of the yarding, all due to Greg's efforts, canvassing producers and backed by his remarkable skill as an auctioneer.

While most young married men with two young children would be inclined to cling to the security of a good job with a sound company, Greg, always a brave punter and full of self-confidence, made the decision to go it alone.

In the early 1970s with wife Patricia, he launched Greg Grant and Company.

However the biggest crash in cattle prices for decades was just around the corner. That may well have flattened a lesser fellow.

The company was destined for success. The great list of clients Greg had built for Winchcombes followed him and in a New York minute he would wear his first crown as The Lamb King of Cannon Hill, yarding vast numbers every week and breaking records regularly.

However the biggest crash in cattle prices for decades was just around the corner. That may well have flattened a lesser fellow.

Undaunted Greg moved into selling horses. His first sale at Cannon Hill was a resounding success and would become a regular event.

Never one to let an opportunity slip by, Greg conducted horse sales all over the place, for several years hardly a week would pass without Granty having a sale somewhere - Rocklea, the Tweed, Glen Innes, The Gold Coast, Warwick, Moree or Cannon Hill. The pleasure horse market was on fire at the time and Granty would reset the records with startling prices.

Once again Greg would attain regal status as King of The Horse Sales and wear a second crown.

The auction of saddlery items at the end of each horse sale presented Greg with another opportunity, one that would prove to be the beginning of something greater than even Greg could have ever imagined.

Initially he began importing saddlery to auction at his own sales. This was very lucrative and it wasn't long before Greg was consigning loads of gear to other agents' sales throughout Queensland and New South Wales.

Greg and Pat had the foresight to recognise the tremendous growth that would occur in the pleasure horse industry and the courage to take the next big step into retailing saddlery and clothing.

On the recommendation of Don Ross, Greg contacted my sister Denise O'Keefe who, with a very good grounding in the retail industry, would be instrumental in developing the first mail order catalogue for their new company, Saddlery Trading Company, operating from a modest shop at Coopers Plains.

Within 12 months a new upmarket store at Annerley would have its grand opening sale, trading as Greg Grant Saddlery, a household name among horse enthusiasts throughout Queensland.

Several more stores would open under that banner over the next few years in Queensland and New South Wales while Saddlery Trading Company would occupy a large warehouse in the industrial area of Annerley and grow to be the biggest wholesale saddlery supplier in Australia. Greg would now don his third crown as King of the Saddlery Trade.

Unprecedented success would catapult Greg and Pat onto the international stage, importing goods worldwide, building their wealth and enabling them to travel extensively and enjoy all the good things life can offer.

A lifelong passion for the racing game could be satisfied with a stable of thoroughbreds enjoying a lot of success over the years.

The old Cannon Hill crew for many years enjoyed a 15% discount at Greg Grant Saddlery Annerley and it was well supported by many of us. I remember one day, 35 years ago, I called into the store to buy a $6 plastic rain hat cover. Granty collared me immediately to tell me of the very first shipment of Nocona boots into Australia from the USA. He showed me the range and assured me of their quality. I could not decide between two pairs so, with an added discount for taking both pairs, I walked out without my hat cover but with two pairs of boots.

Greg was certainly right about the quality. I'm still wearing one pair to this day.

Tragically in December 2013, Greg, only 69 years of age, and his beloved wife Patricia, only a year younger, would lose their lives in a traffic accident while holidaying in India.

A funeral service was held for Greg and Pat at the Caloundra RSL, attended by hundreds of people who listened to several moving eulogies delivered by their family and closest friends.

The bravery of Greg and Pat's children was nothing less than commendable.

Geoff Elliott and I travelled with Don and Judy Ross to the funeral. On our way home Don took us by way of the Saddlery Trading Companies' new headquarters. Don told us that Greg and Pat had built it and filled it to capacity with stock with their own money, a marvellous monument to their outstanding success from very humble beginnings.

I thought it only fitting that I wore those Nocona boots that Greg had sold me all those years ago on that day.

Topics:  cannon hill