Office Everything's history in Mildura
& Riverland

Arriving in Australia

Peter was just 17 when he made the six week trip by boat through the Panama Canal from Amsterdam, Holland to Melbourne. Arriving in November 1959, with his parents and seven of his ten siblings, Peter came to Australia ready to start a new life.

Peter was originally studying to be a Priest but after repairing a second-hand typewriter he bought at a market, he discovered a new passion. Peter realised that he not only enjoyed fixing things, he was good at it.

After working for a few companies doing typewriter repairs and maintenance, Peter finally settled in a job with Olivetti, not knowing then that it would be his last role as an employee.

The move to Mildura

Attracted to the warmer climate, Peter started looking into opportunities that would take him to the north. Back in 1965, there were no Olivetti dealers in Mildura, so Peter and a Dutch work colleague made plans to start their own business and fill the gap in the market.

After much planning and several trips to Mildura, Peter’s business partner suddenly withdrew from the venture. Peter, his wife Yvonne and two young sons were now destined for Mildura as sole proprietors.

Fitting in

In 1965, agriculture was the primary industry in Mildura, so this meant that not only were there very few service providing businesses — much to the benefit of Peter — but there was already a large multi-cultural population.

With Peter from Holland and Yvonne from Sri Lanka, they always felt like they belonged and were welcomed warmly by the Mildura community.

Opening the first shop

With only 200 pounds of borrowed money to fund their venture, Peter and Yvonne rented a small, simple house in town. With no contacts and limited money, they quickly set about finding a location for their new business.

Mildura Office Equipment and Supplies Pty. Ltd. opened up in the winter of 1965 on Tenth Street, in a space they shared with the local piano tuner and seller. They were the first Information Technology ‘IT’ company to set up in North-West regional Victoria, lower regional NSW and regional South Australia.

Two and half years later, with the IT industry booming and the piano business fading, the piano tuner called it a day. Peter inherited all of the space and for a while, found himself not only dealing in typewriters but also selling what was left of
the pianos.

As time went on

Two years after opening in Tenth Street, Peter moved the business to Langtree Avenue. He was now dealing in manual and electric typewriters with customers as far spread as Broken Hill and Swan Hill. In 1974, Peter introduced the first minicomputers to the region. He started off selling two to three computers a year, each taking up to six months to program (there was no such thing as software). Peter was entirely self-taught and each program was custom designed and built.

By now, Peter and Yvonne were parents to four boys and two girls. As the kids grew so did their own interests in the business and several of them were regular fixtures in the shop. Two of Peter’s brothers moved to Mildura to work for him, both stayed about two years. Yvonne’s brother also worked for them for about four years. As the business grew, Peter employed and trained talented locals. Within ten years, he had several skilled technicians and administrative staff.

When times got tough

Like many businesses, Office Everything has had its good times and bad. For a while, giftware was also sold from the shop, just to make ends meet, and Peter once turned his hand to hunting, thinking he might need to shoot a kangaroo, just to put food on the table. He never found a kangaroo.

In 1987, their shop was accidentally burnt to the ground by a serial thief on a rampage. Thankfully, the stock list data remained intact inside the charred casing of a hard-drive, which they were able to use for insurance. While renting elsewhere, they rebuilt Office Everything from the ground up, moving back into Langtree Avenue a year and a half later.

As other IT providers came and went, Peter weathered the storms and stayed committed to his customers. Office Everything as we know it today, was the only IT company in Mildura until around the 1990s.

1980's - Apple Reseller

The 1980s were the beginning of a major shift in how people used and understood IT at work and at home.

As the well-known Commodore 64 flooded the international market, Office Everything introduced it to their customers. Two years later, in 1984 the Apple Macintosh was released to the world. The following year, Peter became one of the first regional distributors of the Apple computer.

Back in the early days of Apple and Commodore 64, there was money to be made in computer sales. True to their reputation as forward-thinkers, Apple recognised that this may not last and frequently advised distributors to invest in their services.

Ensuring that they did not miss the opportunity, Peter guaranteed that he and his team were on top of all relevant product and service requirements.

Bringing so many firsts in computers, IT and services to the region, it is no wonder Peter with the Office Everything family has survived the test of time.

1990'S - the internet

With the outstanding success of personal computers throughout the 1980s, IT was evolving in leaps and bounds.

In 1994, Office Everything brought the first internet service provider, Ruralnet, to North West Victoria. In these early days, the internet was set up using routers and dial-up modems. No one in Office Everything was aware of the potential of the internet, they were focused on offering their customers a new and efficient IT service.

Their reach quickly expanded and they were soon setting up ‘points of presence’ throughout Mildura, Broken Hill, Swan Hill, Ouyen and towns all the way to Bendigo. These points allowed customers far and wide to dial-in for their internet connection.

After a few years, Peter sold Ruralnet to a publically listed company. In order to offer ongoing support to their loyal internet customers, Office Everything remained closely affiliated with Ruralnet.

The Office Everything family

All six of the Janssen children have their father’s flair for IT. Some of them started with the family business before moving on to other careers; some remained in IT but took their own path and some remained in, or returned to, Office Everything.

However it happened, each of his children played a role in building the Office Everything family into what it is today. Peter and Yvonne could not have hoped for anything more.

Along with his immediate family, Peter has been lucky enough to have several employees stand by him for more than two decades. This is truly a rare and remarkable achievement.

Peter today

Today, Peter enjoys a healthy work-life balance. He keeps busy with work projects, including overseeing the activities of Office Everything, which he can now run from home. Whilst Peter and Yvonne make regular trips back to Sri Lanka, they both happily call Mildura home.

‘Mildura has been very good to us and the people have been very good to us.’
Our friendly service is always guaranteed.
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