Ampol Capella owner John Hallam is celebrating 35 years in business.
Ampol Capella owner John Hallam is celebrating 35 years in business.

Capella businessman celebrates a successful 35 years

A WELL-known community figure and businessman is celebrating 35 years in business after what has been both a challenging and exciting journey.

John Hallam, owner of what is now Ampol Capella, first bought the service station in June 1985 as a side project to keep him busy.

He was working at Gregory Mine and was home by 3pm every day and thought “what am I going to do with the rest of the day?”.

To keep from getting bored and going mad, he bought the servo when it was put up for sale and, as they say, the rest is history.

“I love a challenge, it was something to do and I liked being involved in the community,” he said.

“It was a vision and it just grew.”

It was originally a BP with a small donga, two fuel bowsers and one of seven fuel stations in Capella, although now it’s the only one left standing.

The original donga behind the new building.
The original donga behind the new building.

“It was a bit between madness, ambition and determination that I stuck it out,” Mr Hallam laughed.

During the 35 years, he turned the service station into the well-known Capella stop it is today.

The small donga expanded into a large shed that offered auto-electric services and tyre changes and at one point it had its own video rental service.

It has diversified as customers’ needs changed and now hosts a 28-room motel, a coffee shop, fuel, takeaway food, a mini supermarket with all the essential items, a hairdresser and Mr Hallam is also the local gas agent.

The shop features an expansive biscuit tin collection and many signed photographs from a range of visitors who passed through Capella.

“It evolved with listening to the people,” he said.

“They would come here, tell me what they couldn’t get and then I would figure out a way to make it happen.

“This type of industry we’ve learnt to diversify. You have to keep thinking what you can add on to keep people interested to remain viable.”

Ampol Capella owner John Hallam with staff members Prue Ryan and Linda Gronbek.
Ampol Capella owner John Hallam with staff members Prue Ryan and Linda Gronbek.

Mr Hallam, who has worked with about 50 staff members since buying the business, says it wouldn’t be what it is without each one of them.

“I have been blessed with amazing staff and without amazing staff you’re behind the eight ball straight away,” he said.

“The girls here now are committed, passionate and I’m blessed to have them. Without the great staff I wouldn’t be sitting here today.”

Although it’s the support from the community that has kept him in business through the highs and the lows.

“This community has been incredible for me,” he said.

“I’ve tried to support the community but crickey they have supported me back. Its been amazing.”

And to show his thanks, Mr Hallam has supported many sporting clubs, community groups, events and awards ceremonies.

“It’s all to do with one my great philosophies, ‘you will only get out of life what you put in’,” he said.

“Whether it be relationships, marriage, sport or schoolwork, if put no effort in, don’t expect much back.

“I put in the effort and they have continued to support me.”

Ampol Capella owner John Hallam is celebrating 35 years in business.
Ampol Capella owner John Hallam is celebrating 35 years in business.

Through it all, some of his proudest moments have been running the 2018 Queen’s Baton Relay for the Commonwealth Games and developing the Capella Country Music Festival for the community.

“Running in the relay was the most amazing experiences and one of the highlights of my life,” he said.

“Running past the school and seeing all the kids smiling up at me, giving them high 5’s all the way along, they thought I was a champion.”

While the Capella Country Music Festival was cancelled this year, Mr Hallam said he was absolutely looking forward to having it back, bigger and better in 2021.

“Thank you to everyone who has supported me and continues to support me,” he said.

“I’ll definitely be here for the next 15 years and am looking forward to making 50 years.”


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