LES WALTER – HUNGARY
I am Les Walter from Hungary and am married to Georgia. I have started my life many times over. I have always taken on anything.
I am never going to be a millionaire but by working hard I will get a reasonable income.
In Hungary I grew up in a poor family, we lived in one room and a kitchen. I was a trained joiner but I worked as a professional driver because it paid more. Eventually we had a nice three storey house, and two daughters 10 and 14, but we decided that under communism enough was enough. Finally my wife and I got passports, and we paid bribes for our children’s passports and drove to Austria. We arrived with four suitcases.
After eighteen months later we were accepted as refugees to Australia if we could pay our own airfare. In 1985 we arrived in Sydney, and a week later I was working in a plastics factory. I worked hard, and got the night shift, which paid more and was promoted to leading hand.
Then I bought into a screen printing company for $25,000. After 8 months the relationship ended and I left, losing all my money. Also my marriage broke down, and I was working at three jobs to pay off my bank debts. After three years they were done but I was exhausted.
I returned to Hungary, but knew within a week that it was a mistake. Seven months later I came back to Sydney and worked at 3 jobs again,
I met Georgia at this time. Her parents lived in Brisbane so we went there, and soon we moved to the Gold Coast. I worked as a courier, then a handyman.
In 1999 we decided to return to Hungary for good. I got work as a limousine driver. From there I was offered work in the US renovating houses, and ended up working seven days a week managing an ice cream delivery business, returning to Hungary every 3 months to renew my visa. I returned to Hungary with some money but life there was not so good, so we returned to the Gold Coast. Once again I arrived with 4 suitcases and basically started again.
I worked as a handyman and then I started a business for myself doing kitchen and bathroom renovations. Now I have 2 staff and a workshop in Nerang. All our work is from work of mouth. In 2 years we have built 88 kitchens and 100 bathrooms.
My guys work five days a week, but I end up working six or seven.
I don’t want to grow too big. I believe “stay small and happy”. My dream is to get a house and create a happy family. I will be happy if we have enough work to keep us going.
I have had an interesting life, and I have my wife and my children and grandchildren, so I am quite OK.