5 Divorce

By December 1991 the crisis was over. Jim's Mowing had grown steadily for the second half of the year, and the company's financials had improved. But a new crisis loomed.

In March 1990 Felicity had given birth to a daughter, Sarah, their fourth child. In 1991 they had bought a house in Wonga Park, 30 kilometres north-east of Melbourne. It was on 2 acres, with a half-built mudbrick building in the backyard that was to become the office. In 1992 Felicity was pregnant with their fifth child, James — however that year irreconcilable differences led to divorce.

The Marysville acreage and Wonga Park house were sold, but they were deeply mortgaged so little was left. To help raise money for the settlement Jim sold off sections of his Victorian region to successful franchisees, so they could become franchisors (as Phil Maunder was in South Australia and Ron Sadowski in Queensland). They became responsible for looking after their franchisees and selling more franchises in their region. Selling these franchisor rights ‘actually made my income smaller,' Jim said, but it gave him some much needed upfront cash. He even proposed selling the national rights to a group of franchisors, but at the time National Office made virtually nothing and was a headache to run, so they declined. This proved fortunate, because those rights are now the core of his business.

A unique parenting style

Jim only saw his children on access visits, which he found incredibly painful — he missed them terribly. ...

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