ORDINARY PEOPLE NEWSPAPER ARTICLE COURIER MAIL - Amanda Watt
Andrew Willsford 40 Valuer, Inventor Upper Brookfield
I was having a drink with a neighbour about ten years ago and we were talking about different
inventions and ideas. I said, "Mate, I've got a good one" and told him about this water-saving device
I'd been thinking about for a while. The idea was to create a diversion valve near the hot water
supply of your house so that when you turned on the shower or kitchen tap, the cool water that
usually went down the drain while you were waiting for it to warm up was diverted back to your
We brainstormed it for some time and then sketched it out on the side of the carton of beer we
were drinking.We didn't know if it was a winner or not but it seemed like a fantastic project to
work on. The only way we could afford to make up a prototype was to do it ourselves so we
bought a lathe, a milling machine and some metal and over the next couple of years spent many
a late night in my shed refining the idea until it was ready to patent. We got it onto the market
in 2009. It's done better overseas than here. Africa and Europe are good markets for us, as are
Victoria and NSW — we're selling about 1000 a year now.
My day job is valuing land and buildings. I started out in the suburbs and then moved to [an
international firm] inQueen Street [in Brisbane's CBD] but about five years ago I just knew it
was time to leave.
I'd worked really long days for years. My wife and I had a young family and I hadn't seen much of
my eldest child [Tom, now eight] in the first few years of his life so when our daughter
[Sarah, 5] came along, I knew I didn't want to repeat that with her. We had an old, small house
on land at Brookfield [in Brisbane's west] so the plan was to build a bigger house and kick back for
a while, but the phone kept ringing so I ended up starting my own business from home. Valuer
s get paid to think, largely. I lecture at QUT and I tell the students the ability to hold a lot of detail
in your head is an important skill because a lot of our work is based on comparing properties; you
need to be able to recall what [similar] properties sold for and when.
Working from home is the key to a good life for me. My neighbour moved away a while ago so I'm
the only one running RedWater Australia now. I make the valves in the shed. I'll do a production
run over a couple of days and assemble about 1000 at a time. People who turn up to see me about
a valuation report wonder if they've rocked up to the wrong office when they see this bloke
emerge in King Gees and boots. Every day I'll package up any orders that come in, go to the post
office and drop off a few valves and some valuation reports, then go pick up the kids from school.