It all adds up

The sun is just setting on a cool winter’s day. It’s the perfect time to have a midi of ‘Dad’s Pils’ and a chat with solar champion John Dumay.

John Dumay is a Professor in the Department of Accounting & Corporate Governance at the Macquarie Business School specialising in intellectual capital, non-financial accounting and reporting, innovation, research methods and academic writing.

He’s also known as ‘Dad’.

How does a Professor of Accounting end up as a brewer? Or was it the other way around?

It was the other way around! Brewing has a long history in my family. I started brewing when David, my son, was just a baby because I got a home brewing kit for my father’s day present, because I was a poor struggling father with no money and I needed some beer. [Home-brewing] was just starting to happen in Australia and I decided to do it. When David was a young boy, 3 years old, he’d be there, helping, putting the sugar in the bottles, putting the bottles in the cases. He was an active part.

[When he left school] Dave became an apprentice chef and he learned that his low apprentice wages at the Steyne Hotel wouldn’t go very far. So he thought, ‘I’ll make my own beer, like Dad used to make it.’ He got my old recipe book out and the rest is history.

It became a bit of a father and son thing. When he was 18 we went to Ballarat University for a one week intensive brewing course and it was there that we really got the bug. We did a two year post-graduate certificate in food science, to become a master brewer. Then we started up our own business.

How did you get into solar?

We got approached by Origin Energy and they made us an offer we couldn’t refuse. Their offer was to come in and build it for us, handle all the subsidies, claims from the government, everything, and charge us the net cost of putting it in, with interest free finance for two years. 

I’ve got the sunshine!

John Dumay
You rent this building. Was that an issue?

We had a great landlord who said, ‘If you screw up my roof you fix it.” In theory we’d take it with us [if we move] but we have a longer term view. We’d like to renew our lease, stay here. Brookvale is now a destination on weekends. This place on a Saturday is completely packed out and Sundays are amazing when the weather’s nice. Bit of live music, chill out, have a burger and a beer. We’re really pleased how the Sundays are running for us. 

Do you know what kind of payback time you’ll get?

When I did the sums on the two year loan, am I going to get my money back after two years, well the answer is no. But it depends on how much I use. In hindsight, with rising electricity prices, I’ve made absolutely the right decision. Now it’s how we take the kilowatts we have and make them more useful for us. We use as much as we can on site. We are pumping back into the grid so under our current operations everything that runs during the day runs off solar. I wish I had an electric car to plug in!

I’m not a first mover. I think a lot of the first movers didn’t get much financial reward. They did it for personal reasons. But I’m getting a bit of financial reward and a bit of personal reward and now that prices are going up, who knows, one day there could be a shortage of electricity and all my competitors [will be] closing their coolers down and I’ve got the sunshine!

It’s not a matter of if but when we’re going to go to a low carbon economy. That’s the way it is. So what are the steps that we can take to do it? The offer from Origin was at that time in the development of the business that it was the right thing to do. And I feel better about it.

Dad & Daves is open from 4pm-10pm on Thursday and Friday and from 12pm-10pm on Saturday and Sunday. Their food truck serves up award-winning burgers and beer snacks, and there’s live music on Sundays. We’ve tested the beer. It’s fab.