The following is a short remembrance of Gavin and the early days of Imbros by Gavin’s first son and Imbros employee, Euan.
In the early 1970’s my father Gavin Hills started a part-time business providing baby care products sourced from one of his colleagues in Sydney. He operated this business as a side line to working in the Physics Department in the University of Tasmania where he specialised in optics. In his final years at Uni, he was a lecturer in science education. It was there that he was frustrated with his inability to source laboratory supplies in a price effective and timely manner.
He had contacts in Sydney who encouraged him to start a laboratory supply business to compete with the other 2 locals – Selby Scientific and Townson & Mercer. This clearly was to be quite a major step from a secure position in the University to the big unknown!
So Imbros Scientific launched in 1973. As Gavin completed his year at Uni, I started in the business, having resigned my position as a computer programmer with ICL.
It was a very interesting time with my father and mother travelling to Europe for a major scientific market in Germany. They made many contacts with people and businesses that were keen to export to Australia.
I personally made contact with many laboratory managers around Tasmania to get an understanding of what products and services they needed.
In 1975 my father Gavin joined fulltime and we were a very good team building the business. Clearly there were great opportunities and the business grew well.
So business premises were leased in Moonah then later relocated to the Maypole corner in New Town after that historic building had been purchased.
It grew from there.
Products that sold in early years included stopwatches from Switzerland, histology dyes and stains from France, laboratory glassware and plasticware from Australian importers, and microscope slides and coverglass slips from Switzerland.
This product range increased, especially as environmental monitoring became de rigeur. Business relationships strengthened with great local loyalty and support from overseas exporters.
Those were the early hey days!
–Euan Hills, Gavin’s first son, and first official employee of Imbros