Although Bluey’s Ute World only started trading in 1995, its roots go back to 1980.
In that year an Aussie named John Bryant was travelling around South Africa with an Afrikaner called Hasie; Hasie, amongst many other things, was President of the local Porche Club.
One day Hasie put one of his Porsches in for service, and while it was there he was given a Ute on loan. In the back of the Ute John noticed a strange looking protection mat – it appeared to be made from old tyres.
“Ya” said Hasie, “ivry-vone here uses das mats in da Bakkies (Bakkie is Afrikans for Ute). Dey’s made frum ohld tyres and not only do dey stop da gear frum schliding about, but dey also ‘breathe’, allowing air to pass through da mat to stop da rust.”
“Stark raving bloomin’ fantastic” thought John, “we need these mats in Oz. Every Ute owning son-of-a-gun needs one in his Ute”. After tracking down the African manufacturer, a deal was done and woven rubber recycled Ute mats started to flow into the Aussie market. All went well for a while, until one dark day several years later when John received a terrible fax from Hasie in South Africa. It read:-
“Got moanin’ Johan ! I haf bad news. Da mat factory dat maken da mats for da Bakkie is bang up ‘n burn it to da ground. All da tyres dey goes up in smoking. All da mats is kaput. All the machines is kaput. All da biziness records is flamin’. Da staffs is very kaput becoz dey have no jobins workin’ it. It’s a bad day Johan indeed – much more money will be lost it.”
Not being a lad to break down and cry over small mishaps, John hunted around Oz and finally found a really cluey engineer. To cut a long story short, John ended up commissioning his own tyre processing machines and set up his very own factory which, after lots of heart ache and hassles, started to turn old tyres into Ute mats. BODYGUARD woven rubber Ute mats !
After several years selling their famous BODYGUARD Ute mats, John kept getting asked by customers for other Ute products. Ute owners wanted things like roll bars, canopies, liners, tie downs, and a thousand and one things that weren’t even invented yet. In fact it got to a point where John said to himself “why not open a one-stop Ute accessory shop to provide EVERYTHING a Ute owner could possibly want?”.
Well, he did.
And when it came to thinking of a name for the business John wanted something that identified with the True Blue Aussie Ute Owner – that typical Aussie Battler. John felt he wanted to identify with people like Bruce-the-Plumber from Berrilee who drives a ridiculous old Dodge Ute. Bruce-the-Plumber also owned a mad Blue Heeler cattle dog (“Bluey”) that was a fantastic hole digger. One of Bruce-the-Plumber’s favourite tricks was to dig a hole two metres deep with his back hoe, then, as Bluey watched, he’d bury Bluey’s water bowl in the hole. Bluey would then spend literally hours digging down to rescue his water bowl.
John liked what he saw in Bluey the dog. He was tenacious, honest (he never stole other dogs water bowls !), hard working, broke a lot of wind, down to earth, and wasn’t scared of getting his paws dirty. “That’s the sort of business I want to run, I’ll call it Bluey’s Ute World !”
Fired up and ready to take on the world with his new enterprise, John figured he needed to do some smart promotional tricks to let the Ute driving world know that Bluey’s existed. Quick as a flash, John called up his local sculptor.
“How’d ya like to make me a fibreglass Dog?” John asked.
“No worries, mate. What sort and how big do yer want it” replied Ulrich the Sculptor.
“Blue Heeler and big as possible; say, about eight feet tall?”
“Gees mate, that’s bloody tall for a Blue Heeler” whimpered the Man with the hammer and chisel.
Anyway, three months later the first eight foot “Big Bluey” rolled out of the Sculptors shed, and was installed in the back of Bluey’s first Ute.
Cruisin’ down Sydney’s F4 in the back of the Commodore Ute, that first Big Bluey created quite a stir. Not a few rear-enders were blamed on the sight of Big Bluey loping along the main drag, grabbing attention and causing comment. Children cried, men trembled, women swooned.
Everything went OK for Bluey’s Ute World for the first year or two as more and more people poured into Bluey’s showrooms in Sydney to see the Big Dog and check out the very latest in Ute gear. But then a nasty trend developed; John kept getting distressing phone calls from interstate. Deep gruff voices kept asking the same question: “Why don’t yers open a Bluey’s in Brissie (or Melbourne or where ever) ?”
It soon became obvious that Ute people in other States deserved to have access to a Bluey’s store too.
Well boys and girls, the rest is history. Bluey’s now has stores in the Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, with more in the pipeline.
So while John (and Stewart and Paul and Jack and Belinda and Tamson and Margaret and Bill and Pete and Neil and Gavin and Chris and Peter and Kev) slave away in Bluey’s stores, that darn Blue Heeler is out there somewhere with Bruce-the-Plumber, digging his bowl out of yet another two metre hole !
And that fibreglass Big Dog now has half a dozen brothers and sisters, all riding around in the backs of Bluey’s Utes creating a stir and living happily ever after.