CLAUDIA Guymer’s twinkling eyes and sweet smile are a familiar sight to road users travelling through Chinchilla.
After operating the Miles Caltex for 43 years the Guymer family handed the franchise back last week.
The Chinchilla News caught up with Ms Guymer and her four children to get the scoop on the family business that spanned more than four decades.
Ms Guymer was 38 when she moved to Miles from Wandoan in 1976 and became the franchisee with her husband of what was then the Miles Golden Fleece service station.
“My sister and brother-in-law were in the Shell service station here and they suggested that my husband and I make the move. They lent us the money and we came to Miles,” Ms Guymer said.
At the time her eldest child, Kerri, was 17, twins Scott and Shaun were 14, and John was only one.
“I had previously worked in a cafe fruit shop in Wandoan and catering for McCafferty’s coaches up there and when we moved down here the coaches came with us,” she said.
In 1981 Caltex bought out Golden Fleece, but not much changed for the Guymers or their customers. The service station eventually went to operating 24 hours a day, and coaches from McCafferty’s, Skinners and Greyhound peaked at 60 a week.
“That was when school children used to go backwards and forwards to boarding school from Longreach through to Toowoomba, and then from Taroom and Wandoan,” Ms Guymer said.
Youngest son John said he often ran into people who said they used to stop in on the bus on the way home.
All four children “did their time” working at the servo as did one grandchild, Kerri’s daughter.
Over the years there have been plenty of changes, one of the most notable being the rise and decline of the station’s restaurant trade.
“I think that’s been the biggest change,” John said.
“The restaurant used to be a big part of the business whereas the way the fuel companies are going, they’re sort of focused more on convenience retail.”
Despite the ups and downs Ms Guymer said it was very rewarding work.
Now 80, she intends to stay in Miles and enjoy the company of her four children, 12 grandchildren, and 11 great grandchildren.
Meanwhile, local girl Angie Lloyd is staying on at the Caltex as manager. The Guymers thanked those who supported them over the years, notably long-term employees Chris Garvey, Jenny Greig, Vicki O’Reilly, Angie Lloyd and Barry Woodford, who put in heroic efforts on the midnight shift – from midnight to 8am – for more than 25 years.
Extracted from Chinchilla News