Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Ben from Sydney


My name is Ben.

I’m 47, I live in southern Sydney with my family – my wife Lyn and 3 children; Martin is twenty-three, Megan is twenty, and William is fifteen.

Early Years

My schooling started at Carlton (Sydney) South Primary School. My parents lived in the Carlton area until 1973, and then relocated to Heathcote. I went to Heathcote Public School and then onto Heathcote High School. I finished schooling in 1980 at the end of year 10 and then went on to do a four-year apprenticeship to get my certificate for fitting and machining. I enjoyed my school life – it was very full. Mine was somewhat of an uncomplicated upbringing, I guess you could say. Where we lived was surrounded by national parks, so my younger years were simple, but they were full of fun. It was an interesting upbringing. There are a lot of waterholes down in the bottom of the valleys, so in the summer we spent time down there. Ever since a kid I’ve always very much enjoyed outdoors, very much enjoyed summer.

Enjoying exercise

I still enjoy bushwalking and swimming with the family. As you get older your body breaks down a bit, and you can’t be quite as adventurous as you’d like to be but the boys always want to go to the water -we’re only fifteen minutes from the coast, so that’s where we often go. When time allows us we tend to go down the coast – the water quality improves the further you get out of the cities. I hope to lose 10 kilos in the next two years; that’s a personal goal. It will require a lot more exercise daily that what I am currently doing. Work life is demanding so time is scarce.


I come from a family of engineers, but we all went our own ways after the apprenticeships were completed. I have ended up back with my two brothers in a hardware business, importing and wholesaling cabinet and kitchen hardware. We import kitchen hardware and furniture hardware products from all over the world. We hold stock here in Sydney, and then we sell up and down the east coast, direct to kitchen or furniture manufacturers. We have approximately nine thousand different products in stock; a four thousand square metre warehouse, a team of thirty-five staff. We really don’t value-add to any product, we just buy a product and resell it. One of the largest items we would have would be a kitchen sink. Ninety per cent of our stock would be shipped in via containers, a little bit of airfreight. That’s all unpacked, sorted and held in warehouse. A standard work day for me would start at 5:30am, be in the office by 7.00am, seek to get my own day planned and then ensure the staff are diligently prepared for the day ahead. I do a moderate amount of overseas travel for sourcing product lines. That’s quite a challenge to keep up with the latest products being released from different suppliers all over the world. Last month I was in China for three days. I don’t have a whole lot of days in my week that are all the same! You could say one of my passions is to succeed, particularly in the business area. I find satisfaction in being able to build up a business, employ others, reward them for their efforts and results, but broader than that.. Even outside of the employment jurisdictions you have the privilege of caring for others because you know when you were younger and you worked for others they did more than just pay you a wage, they actually cared for you. I’d say a genuine goal is for me to have the business running profitably and structured so within five years I do not have to spend much time here. It’s a very steep challenge, but that’s the idea. Another goal for the future would be to make sure all my debts are cared for, and I’ve set at least my two boys up with houses, so they’re ready to tackle adult life. Being a family business works well. I’m the youngest of the three; we each have very different skill sets. We’ve rather tended to find our own area of skill, and stick to that. Our children are all actively involved in the team. The big advantage is when someone needs to go away for a month; we can do that sort of thing without upsetting the business. I normally walk out of the office between 5:00pm and 5:15pm. We live two minutes from the office. I go home and have a meal with the family, attend the evening church function and after that spend some quiet time with the family. In summertime the boys will quite often go down to Cronulla and go for a run along the beach to keep their fitness up; sometimes I’ll go with them, other times, due to the time change, I catch-up with the staff in Jamaica. I normally turn in by ten o’clock.

Jamaican Investment

I’ve been to Jamaica in the Caribbean twice in the last ten months as I have invested in a business there. We go there on a regular basis to seek to up-skill the staff and turn the business into a profitable one. It’s a similar business model to ours from the point of view we import a product, hold stock, and resell it, but the one in Jamaica is office furniture. The business there is located in Kingston – the main city. Last time I went out selling with the sales team; we went to Montego Bay and Ocho Rios. The majority of the populace is in Kingston but there’s also a lot happening in Montego Bay, it’s about a three-hour drive away. Montego Bay – there’s two sides to it, probably like a lot of the tourist ports of Jamaica. Where the tourists come and see it’s idyllic; the beautiful coastlines are very, very pretty. You’ve only got to go one or two miles back from the beach and you get third world living, very poor conditions, very poor people. If you come in there on a cruise ship as a tourist you wouldn’t see all that. We actually rent a house there, and live on our own, but we have a lot to do with other families there. From my point of view this business investment is not exactly a moneymaking goal. I mean, any business venture is about making money, but it’s more about being able to help people —there’s a lot of unemployment there. I’d like to be able to build the business up so the Jamaicans can elevate their own living standards. Obviously we hope to make a few dollars net return on our investment as well. We’ve sort of doubled the business since we’ve been involved in it, but we can double and double again yet. The next twelve months should show a lot of progress. When we originally came across the business it was really struggling. We decided that we would offer to step in and give them a hand, to take ownership along with some others and give it a go for three years to see what we could do to turn it around. The fact is they’re doing it so tough there. The economic conditions in Jamaica are very, very tough; their currency keeps slipping. In the last six months, there were three or four slips in the currency against the US dollar which means that every imported product you bring in is lifting in price. Therefore it’s a real challenging environment. We’re learning. I mean, we’re teaching, but we’re also learning. When you grow up in an environment you get comfortable with it and you just take it as normal. When you come in as an outsider you can see all areas that could be improved, you just tackle them one at a time. Our goal is for this company to be self-sufficient and profitable without a whole lot of input from ourselves.


In October 2008 I did a round-the-world trip with my wife and my son Martyn. We spent four days in the UK, two days in Ireland and then we came back via UK to New York. Then we moved on to Canada, we went to Kingston Ontario for a weekend then back to New Jersey for a couple of days, and then back via California, through LA and home. It was a two-week trip. It was excellent. UK was interesting; Ireland was excellent, very different – very warm people to keep company with. Canada was awesome; because it was fall, it was very pretty. New York; we spent a bit of time in New York doing Ground Zero and Times Square and so on. We didn’t have much time in California that trip but twice since on the way to Jamaica we’ve stopped in LA for a day or two. Also on the way back from Jamaica last time we called into Miami. We actually went out of the airport for half a day and did some sightseeing. That was quite interesting too because if you’ve been in Jamaica which is very third world then you go to Miami which is the same climate, very tropical, but it’s very first world it’s quite a contrast and amazingly only less than 2 hour flight away.

Being a member of the PBCC

I’m a member of the PBCC because I want to be a member. I was born into a brethren family. I’m very comfortable with it, I always have been. There was a time in my younger years, where, as a restless teenager, I might have some other ideas but that didn’t last very long. I’ve always been an active member, and believing in it. The benefits to me are in some sense endless. I just see our community has a big favour there, because it’s very rare for a household to break up. And you often see—we know for ourselves, it’s very common to see three generations overlap, grandparents and parents and grandchildren all interacting and enjoying life. The family spirit and the community spirit is very, very strong, at the same time as allowing plenty of scope for differences of opinion and free for all. There’s more than enough space for every personality. Freedom of speech is not a challenge; there’s plenty of that! The benefit to me is that I can bring my family up as my parents brought me up, in a happy environment. I witness all day every day the young people being happy; the young people are full of beans; they’re normal young people, doing what they need to do. The benefits are endless. I can take my children to destinations round the world where I have friends and connections – the kids have made lifelong friends by going on these trips. I know they’ll have a good time, but they’ll be safe – that’s one thing I’m very, very thankful for.


  1. What a load of absolute b*ll*cks! He is obviously a member of a different EB/PBCC to the one I was constrained in. How do these people sleep straight when they tell ABSOLUTE BARE FACED LIES???? He doesn't even seem to know his own children (spells his son's name differently - Martin and Martyn) and of course if Megan does exist she'd be married with four children by now. How low can these people sink?

    1. You're the one full of bull sh*t mate! Who are you? "Anonymous" hey? At least Ben states his case and states his name! Who are you to judge?

  2. That is Ben Fooks, I knew his family and am related indirectly. Amazing how they travel quite a bit now. Not sure how many people know he has a brother that has been out for quite sometime. Definitely PBCC

  3. Another peeb into office furniture? Does that elevate them closer to the Grand Poo-Bah Sydney Furniture Tycoon who has become one of Australia's richest men? Leonardo J Octavanius, whereabouts is your office furniture business?

    1. I suspect that the illustrious Leonardo J Octavanius has been warned off by Peeb Central for spouting off too much and spilling the beans of what a mess things really are.

  4. Some brief observations from the profile story of Ben, specifically on the section about “Being a member of the PBCC”

    - Its striking that there is nothing about being a “Christian”, or about the Christian faith, or about his own personal faith, or why he is a member of the PBCC based on his understanding of the teaching received, or Christianity

    - “I’m a member of the PBCC because I want to be a member” , doesn’t explain anything at all !. Its like a 4 year old being asked why he broke the pencil and answering with “cause” !. Its not an answer. Ben then confirms he was born into the Brethren, which is perhaps the real answer

    - “I’ve always been an active member, and believing in it”. This is the most striking comment. It’s a very peculiar way to describe a supposed Christian Church and why a person is a member. “Believing in it” !. What and Who is “it” ??

    - “believing in it”. A Christian does not put belief, trust and faith in an “organisation” or “it” !, a genuine real Christian believes in the person of Christ, His shed blood and saving grace !, yet these fundamentals of Christianity aren’t mentioned

    - The immediate comparison to “believing in it” is the blind faith and trust Jehovah’s Witness place in the “Watchtower Organisation”. JW’s often declare themselves Christians but obey edicts & doctrines from the “Watchtower” even if contradictory to the Bible, or to previous edicts & doctrines issued by the “Watchtower” !

    - The overall impression is a focus on being in and within the group, within the PBCC / EB both local and universal. In the rest of the section they have taken many factual evidence based harmful and detrimental issues of the PBCC / EB and tried to twist them into positives while dismissing the factual evidence

  5. Isn't this the photo of the poor girl with the bird's mess fascinator - now airbrushed out?

  6. The remarkable thing is that if Brother Rev was to post his comments (with which I wholeheartedly agree) on the PBCC (Exclusive Brethren) website they would be not be found to be acceptable. What an indictment of a so called Christian Church!
    Trusting in a man made organisation however worthy I consider it to be will not provide me with a passport to heaven.
    Jesus said "I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to God the Father , except by me" John 14.6

  7. I wonder if Ben could tell us about Monday prayer meetings
    In the last 52 weeks, how many times he prayed for Bruce Hales
    and how many he did not, by one title or another?

    I think the industry standard is close to 100% or questions are asked


    1. And....?
      Who is "Tim"?
      At least Ben is prepared to say who he is!

  8. ' I can take my children to destinations round the world '

    Contrast this comment with the fact that my wife's parents refused to allow her to stay with them 300 miles away in the same country to convalesce after a life threatening illness. Their total lack of compassion made it so easy to walk away. Having 'friends' was deemed 'Midianitish' . Spending time with family was 'Moabitish'. On reflection, I have come to the conclusion that the PBCC are incapable of showing genuine compassion either to their own members or ex-members. They find it easier to commune with people who do not know their dirty little secrets, like firemen and fat MP's.

    Anyone for a half day trip to Miami? And why so many details about business and exchange rates on a 'church' website?

    1. Why dont you tell us who you are "Anonymous"? At lease Ben says who is is!!!

  9. I knew an EB late middle aged couple who flew to Paris; just for the day, I think, but had to go in secret and not tell anyone in case they were found out by the local enforcers! Now travel around the world is not only OK, you can even boast about it. If you are clever, you might be able to claim tax relief on the expenses!

  10. Ben, you mention your sons a couple of times. What about your wife and daughter - not 2nd-class citizens by any chance are they? Even your brothers get a mention...

    Just an observation, prompted by years of sitting at the back of EB meetings, behind all the men and boys.

  11. Maybe if you called yourself Laurence you might get an answer!

  12. Awesome work once again! I am looking forward for your next post On Outdoor Furniture Sydney.

  13. I appreciate your work and hope to get more interesting information On Cheap Outdoor Furniture Sydney.

  14. Totally with you Ben! Ive just read this... dont be intimidated by the horrible attacks on your comments! Will see you soon I am sure!

  15. Totally with you Ben! Ive just read this... dont be intimidated by the horrible attacks on your comments! Will see you soon I am sure!