His work ethic would put people half his age to shame. What drives an 82-year-old to work 12 hours a day, seven days a week?
Ipswich First caught up with Thai 2 Go’s Doug Scobie before the doors opened on another busy day at the Pine Mountain Road shop.
Doug Scobie was born in New Zealand and spent more than half his 82 years in Australia.
“I’ve never got around to citizenship, but I should because I’m more Aussie than Kiwi and have been for a long time,” he said.
“I’m a mad AFL fan and love the Richmond Tigers being a fan for more than 60 years.”
The shop is a big part of Doug’s life along with his business partner Karuna Gwilym-Williams.
It’s clear he’s always been a people person as he quickly went through a list of jobs and careers after he left school.
“What didn’t I do?” he said.
“First job I think was delivering bread in a country town in New Zealand with a population of about 3000.
“I worked on farms then decided at the age of 22 to come to Australia and came on a ship that took three and a half days to get here.
“Went to Sydney first and hated it after three days, couldn’t stand it, moved to Brisbane in the middle of summer and couldn’t handle it, then down to Melbourne to become a tram conductor.
“I was on the trams for almost a year and loved it. One day I was bit naughty and had a smoke leaving the tram unguarded.
“Then came a few different jobs including deliveries all over Melbourne.
“Later I started work at a Holden dealership in Yarraville for about seven years before getting homesick.
“So I returned to NZ for about another seven years before coming back and getting into the car industry.”
Doug Scobie said selling cars went on to become a major part of his life with a few years in the army in between the car jobs.
Regular customers of Thai 2 Go know Doug as a person who likes a joke and has a good sense of humour.
He insisted on telling the story about one of his more unusual jobs in New Zealand.
“I was an artificial insemination technician. I fathered 4,500 calves,” he said among the laughter.
The idea for Thai 2 Go was born about 16 years ago after Doug Scobie settled in Ipswich 22 years ago.
“I’ve always liked Ipswich,” he said.
“It’s big enough to be interesting and small enough to care in my opinion.
“My partner in the business, Karuna, said she wanted to open a Thai restaurant. At that time I was in my early 60s.
“I said Ipswich needs a Thai takeaway and she agreed is was a good idea.
“Karuna and her sister are brilliant cooks, so I was looking around for a place.”
The next part of the story is an example being in the right place and having the right idea at the right time.
“I used to buy hamburgers from the shop across the road and I was sitting there one day looking over to where we are now and thought that would make a great takeaway,” he said.
“A week later the lady who owned the bread shop next door said the shop I had been looking at was available.
“It all seemed to happen quickly. Now we’ve been here nearly 15 years.
It is testament to Doug and Karuna that they must be doing something right.
“Small business isn’t easy but we pay our bills and we have a very loyal clientele.
“We branched out recently to offer vegan meals and this has been going very well.”
At 82 Doug Scobie shows no sign of slowing down or taking time off.
“It’s a seven day a week 12 hour day but because it’s our social life as well as a business, and because I’m on first name terms with 90 per cent of our customers we have a lot of fun,” he said.
“Forget being a millionaire, I gave that up years ago.
“Our annual leave is Christmas Day and Good Friday.”
So how much longer does Doug Scobie give himself behind the counter?
“I’d like to make it to 90.”
Doug Scobie said regular customers came on either a weekly, fortnightly or monthly basis.
He said while it sounded corny it’s true that ninety per cent of his customers he considered as friends.
“When I walk anywhere in Ipswich I get ‘g’day Doug’ from people. I’ve become almost famous,” he said with a wry smile.
“I love this town, I love the people and I love my job.”