Here’s Cheers to Working with Dad in the Family Business

Published 1:17pm 30 August 2019

Here’s Cheers to Working with Dad in the Family Business
Words by Kylie Knight


Ocean View Estates Vineyard and Winery

Thomas Honnef’s family has had a connection with wine for as long as he can remember, so sharing the ups and downs of winemaking with his daughter Hannah is particularly special.

In 1998, when Hannah was four years old, he and wife Kate established the vineyards at Ocean View Estates, and made their first wine in 2002.

Thomas says his three daughters were not afraid to get stuck in, and would be there to press grapes and help out every day.

“It was always part of what we were doing. They just loved it,” Thomas recalls.

Winemaking was a natural fit for Thomas, who says his German parents had a connection with wine, as did his great grandparents, who had a vineyard and winery. “Dad was always making wine and always had a glass of wine at the dinner table. It was part of the culture,” Thomas says.

Officially, Hannah began working at Ocean View Estates four years ago, starting with the cellar door, coffee shop, as a kitchen hand and serving customers.

Here’s Cheers to Working with Dad in the Family Business

She also helped out in the winery and then began brewing beer — where she found her calling. Thomas says he had tinkered with brewing and had a couple of recipes, which Hannah has since perfected.

She’s added a few of her own and now Thomas is happy to admit that she’s a better brewer than he is, combining creativity with precision and mathematics.

“She has a scientific background and is a very smart, intelligent lady,” he says.

“She’s my little girl, my eldest daughter. We’re working side-by-side and it’s just a nice thing to have that relationship.

“It’s been a wonderful journey and better than I could ever have anticipated.”

Hannah says working with her dad has taught her plenty about hard work and striving to be better. “He doesn’t stop. He keeps going if things get challenging, he keeps going,” Hannah says.

“Also thinking bigger and what can we do next? How can we improve?

“How can it be better?”

So, what has she taught him?

“I think patience is the big one,” she says, laughing. “He used to fly off easily, now he’s a bit calmer.

“We know each other well. We always have a lot of banter, which is fun.”

Hannah loves that every day is different and that she can contribute to something her parents have worked hard to create and continue running the family business when they decide to put their feet up.

Here’s Cheers to Working with Dad in the Family Business


The Golden Ox Restaurant

Nick Tzimas says son Peter does not following in his footsteps, because he’s already miles ahead when it comes to crafting quality and inventive cuisine.

“He can see further and with more clarity than I’ve ever been able to see. He’s definitely far ahead of me, there’s no question,” Nick says.

Peter, now 38, and his siblings regularly helped out in the family’s restaurant, spending Christmas Days and special occasions there.

He has memories of helping out in the kitchen as a child, wreaking a little havoc and having a full kitchen to play in.

Being involved with it all drew Peter to the industry and to the role of head chef.

“I guess I grew up around the kitchen and chefs and I enjoyed watching them make cakes and stuff like that in the kitchen,” Peter says.

“Obviously I learned a lot about food from my father.

“He’s always had a big passion for food, dining and restaurants and it’s something I’ve always been around and seen.”

Peter’s first stint working as a chef at The Golden Ox was about 2009. He then took on a gig at The Hilton before returning in May 2017.

He enjoys experimenting with food and flavours, and his flair is something his father describes as a rare talent.

“I have worked in Greece, Germany and Australia and I haven’t come across anyone like Peter,” Nick says.

“You separate the son and father factor … he’s got a mind … I don’t know how he thinks things.

“He puts things together and creates an experience and always perfection with the food,” he says.

Nick concedes there have been occasions when he’s questioned an idea Peter has had, but later told him to give it a try.

“A couple of times I felt bad and (later) said that will be perfect and he’s done it and it is perfect,” Nick says.

“With him in the kitchen, I never feel the need to check, because I know he’ll produce better than perfection.”

Peter enjoys working closely with both his parents and shares his mother Virginia’s focus when there’s work to be done.

“It’s good in a lot of ways, you can be open and honest,” he says.

“I can share my opinion and it’s nice to see your parents.”

When asked what Nick’s hopes are for his son, he answers simply …

“My hopes are for him to do his own thing,” Nick says.

“I think one day he will have jumped in to another level of whatever he’s doing. He’s got a gift.”

Here’s Cheers to Working with Dad in the Family Business


Redcliffe SES volunteers

They might be new to the Redcliffe SES Group, but Garth Ferguson and daughter Lillian already enjoy the benefits of sharing training and call-out rigours.

“I reckon it’s the best way to bond with your kids. You can go and play football, but if you do something like this, you’re side-by-side and you can see what they’re doing. You’re doing something to help the community,” Garth explains.

He and Lillian joined in February and have been engaged in land searches, Anzac Day and sandbagging already.

They will be part of the SES's storm damage operations crew as the dark clouds roll through this season.

Lillian, 18, is a former-student at Clontarf Beach State High School who wants to serve her community.

“When I would see the SES on TV (working after a disaster), I would feel useless because I was sitting at home not out there helping,” she says. Volunteering will also help her achieve her goal of eventually becoming a police officer.

Garth, 46, says he had previously volunteered with the ambulance and fire services as well as the SES, and was pleased to sign up again when Lillian told him she was keen on it.

“I always thought she wouldn’t get dirty. I never imagined her to be in the thick of it in the bush. She doesn’t like creepy crawlies, but she’s stuck it out. It’s the fact that she wants to do this,” he says.

So, what can Lillian do better than her dad? “She can show me up on tying knots quite well,” Garth says.'

Here’s Cheers to Working with Dad in the Family Business



Paul Comiskey learned from his father about hard work and it is a lesson he passed on to his sons David and Rob, who proudly work alongside him in the family business.

“My father was a workaholic. He didn’t drink very much and he never smoked, but he could work and he made us work and I didn’t like it (at the time),” Paul says.

He’s since learnt that if you enjoy what you’re doing, it doesn’t feel like hard work.

Paul, David and Rob are at the heart of the Comiskey Group, which owns four hotels, a number of shopping centres and provides accommodation, while also building new projects.

It all began when Paul, a public servant in the stamp duties office, and his wife, Erica, bought squash courts at Strathpine in 1970. They expanded the complex before knocking it down and building their first shopping centre. “We have built probably 15 little shopping centres all on the northside of Brisbane (since then),” Paul says.

The family also built 37 Tadpoles childcare centres, before selling them to Eddie Groves, but is best known for building the Eatons Hill Hotel, accommodation and shopping centre precinct, and the Sandstone Point Hotel and Big 4 resort.

Working together on such large projects, and subsequently managing those facilities might put a strain on some families, but the trio says being family makes it easier.

“I think it works because everyone’s got a different view, everyone’s coming at it from a different angle, you say what you really think because obviously you’re family you don’t have to hold back,” Rob says.

For David, it’s about trust and being able to share the workload. “The reason I think the company works so well is that I couldn’t do this without two other people. The trust I have in both of them … I don’t think you could do that with other people,” David says.

Paul says they can walk around their projects and point out aspects that were the result of an idea they each had.

“That’s what makes that building so successful. And because the age difference, I see things a lot different to these guys, but that’s the beauty of it,” he says.

For David and Rob, they 're hoping their kids will do what they've done — work away from family business, before they return with new skills. But if it's not for them, then that's also OK.


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