SINCE the late 1800s the Raffins have been a well-respected family in the South Burnett.
For generations they have been a part of the local community and owned a number of core businesses in region.
Today, Wondai Electrical is owned and operated by a fourth-generation family member, Mark Raffin along with his wife Elaine, son Daley and his wife Sherree.
With more than 40 years of experience in the energy industry, their team consists of dedicated experts who provide the South Burnett with a range of services.
However, the Raffin story starts back in the 1890s when their descendant moved to the area.
Mark’s older cousin, Kevin Raffin, said business was a huge part of their family’s history.
“My great grandfather came here in 1890s to Nanango,” Kevin said.
“He had a cordial factory in a little shed beside the Fitzroy Hotel.
“He passed away and then my grandfather took over and brought it into town to the Taabinga village before he sold it to the Sawtell’s.”
Kevin said he had also operated a business for more than 50 years in the region after a chance of fate.
“I was going away to be a jockey in Brisbane and went down to get a haircut at the barber.
“He asked me if I wanted a job at the shop and said I could start straight away, but I said no.
“I told my dad when I got home and he put me in the car and drove me down there, even though we only lived one street away.
“He asked the barber when I could start, and he said on the following Monday, so that was that.”
Despite the unexpected career move, Kevin ran his barber shop until 2000 before he retired.
He said one of his most memorable aspects in his 50-year career was helping people in care.
“I don’t know how many houses I have been to in Kingaroy,” he said.
“I used to cut people’s hair who had cancer and were at home in bed.
“I sometimes didn’t have a car, but I would walk there in the rain just to do it.”
Similarly, Mark’s career took an unexpected turn when he returned home late from a sporting tournament in 1984.
“I wanted to be fitter and turner in a large workshop,” Mark said.
“I was away in Townsville playing a lot of sport and there was a cyclone, so I had to come back four days late.
“When I arrived to start the fitting and turning course, they said all the other fitters and turners had started, but the electrician didn’t turn up and asked if I would be interested in the course.”
More than 40 years later, Mark has worked across Queensland providing electrical services in different regions with his family in tow.
Mark and Elaine raised their two sons Daley and Aaron, who are fifth generation Raffins, at Mt Isa before settling down in Wondai years later and operating their business out of the South Burnett.
It seems whether you’re a Raffin or married into the family, electrical experience is a common theme with Daley and his wife Sherree meeting during their studies.
“I met Sherree when we were doing our electrical apprenticeship together at TAFE in Mt Isa,” Daley said.
“They were always talking to each other and used to get in trouble,” Mark said.
“No, I was minding my own business and trying to study,” Daley said jokingly.
After operating an electrical business in different parts of Queensland, Daley said they made the switch to the country for a better quality of life.
“We had our own business in Townsville for five years and then lived in Brisbane for a year.
“It was so expensive and our boys Olly (5) and Harley (3) were always sick.
“We are happy here in the area and the boys are enjoying school.
“We also get to spend more time with the kids and have made some good friends.
Looking forward to the future, Daley said he had one wish for his boys, who are sixth generation Raffins.
“Maybe they can become plumbers or builders instead of electricians,” Daley said.
“No, I don’t mind, as long as they are happy.
“We want to be a little bit more involved with the community, including sporting groups, when the boys get a bit older.”
These days, the tight knit family operate their business between the South East Queensland Coast up to the North West Queensland from their headquarters at Wondai.
They also recently signed a lease on a property at Kingaroy and will turn it into a depot for their business for the next year.
Mark said they would be testing the waters and, by the end of the 12 months, would have more of a concrete plan for the future of Wondai Electrical.