Charlie Schwerkolt and Waverley Forklifts – Part #1
What would Waverley Forklifts be without Charlie Schwerkolt?
Not only is he is the Managing Director of the company, but he’s synonymous with the Waverley Forklifts brand.
To get to know Charlie and Waverley Forklifts better, let’s go back to the beginning….
The Schwerkolt family has business origins that date back to the 1800s.
Charlie’s great-great grandfather immigrated to Australia from Prussia, Germany, and settled in Northcote, Melbourne then purchased farming land in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne. He built Schwerkolt Cottage in Mitcham (which has been preserved as an example of Colonial history and is now a museum complex that can be visited) and he had seven children.
His eldest son Carl, Charlie’s great grandfather, began collecting bottles and became a marine store dealer in Bangs Street, Prahan – and this is where the family business began!
Charlie’s grandfather took the business over in the 1920s and began collecting bottle for Carlton and United Breweries, and then set up a bottle washing plant, washing bottles for some of the large wineries in Australia. When he passed away in 1964, Charlie’s dad (also called Charles) took over and moved the plant to larger premises in Mt Waverley in 1966, and the operations focused on collecting and recycling bottles.
Then, in 1972, everything changed in the world of bottle recycling. Local councils introduced kerbside collection and households could just put their bottles out on the nature strip, eliminating the need for private recycling.
The Schwerkolt family business changed overnight, and staff numbers went from sixty to eight.
Charles realised immediately that he had to diversify their operations. There were four forklifts on the property, all of which had been used when staffing levels were high, but only one was needed now….so Charles began walking the streets of Mt Waverley and rented them out.
And this lead to Waverley Forklifts being established in 1973!
Stay tuned for Part 2…