The next generation is taking over the much-loved Tumut Broom Factory.
Story Sue Wallace Photos Robyn Macrae
There’s good news for fans of Tumut’s hardy, handmade millet brooms. The next generation of broom makers is joining business partners Geoff Wortes, 67, and Robert Richards, 63, to ensure the preservation of traditional techniques and the continuation of the historic family business that has produced brooms for 75 years. Their sons Andrew Wortes, 25, and Brad Richards, 26, have returned to the picturesque NSW town in the foothills of the Snowy Mountains, where they grew up, to run the business.
Both Geoff and Robert are planning to step back next year and are confident the iconic Tumut Broom Factory will be in good hands.They have worked together for the past 20 years and were concerned the business would fold on their retirement. “We didn’t believe it would happen and that the business would continue … so we are very pleased,” Robert says.
Brad was a diesel mechanic working at Sydney Airport and Andrew a musician when the COVID-19 pandemic prompted them to rethink employment and move to the country. “COVID may have hurried their decision along a bit,” Geoff says.
The factory make six types of brooms, including a whisk, toy broom, caravan broom and woolshed broom with a cane middle for extra durability. Millet is imported from Mexico, costing $500 a bale, stitched together by a manually operated machine, and then joined to a handle made of Tasmanian oak. “Every stage is checked and has to be up to our standard,” Robert says.
This story excerpt is from Issue #137
Outback Magazine: June/July 2021