After emigrating from Scotland in 1870, Charles Patterson and two brothers established the family’s first sawmill in the Indooroopilly area in 1875. This laid the foundation for a thriving family business which will soon celebrate its 150th anniversary.
From the outset, Patterson Brothers as it was then named, specialised in milling local timbers for structural and decorative use in the building of archetypal ‘Queenslander’ houses, contributing greatly to the rapid expansion of Brisbane’s suburbs. By 1884, and under the sole control of Charles Patterson, the business relocated to Toowong where it was to be a landmark for nearly a century. The first of many fires and other natural disasters to confront the business, all but obliterated the Toowong mill in 1888. With remarkable resilience that was to be demonstrated time and time again over the next 130 years, most recently following 2011 floods, many damaged mills were immediately rebuilt and improved.
Charles Patterson through his business leadership, extensive community service including several terms as Mayor of Toowong, and his unstinting support for the Presbyterian Church, infused the business with a character that remains central to Finlayson’s today.
In 1961, Malcolm Finlayson, a grandson of Charles Patterson and long-term employee of the business became a director before becoming Managing Director in 1979. Together with his experienced fellow shareholders who had acquired the business, Malcolm, a giant of the Queensland timber industry, was able to convert a moderately successful family business into an industry leader in a relatively short time. This was achieved by investing heavily in cutting edge technology and innovation to underpin its manufacturing operations while leveraging its reputation and loyal customer base.
Acquisition of full control of the business was achieved by the Finlayson family in 1998 with Malcolm as Managing Director and sons Skene and Michael as co-directors. With its focus on milling and moulding sustainably sourced Queensland hoop pine, the company has developed an outstanding reputation for its colonial woodwork, mouldings, and joinery.
Now, in its fourth generation as a Queensland business, Finlayson’s proudly employs over 300 full time staff in Queensland and New South Wales under the dedicated leadership of Skene and Michael. From its origins as a local timber miller and merchant, Finlayson’s is a significant timber exporter and is one of the leaders of its industry in Australia.