Lance Smith started his working life as an Apprentice Butcher in the Melbourne suburb of Glen Iris. His father advised him to be a butcher or undertaker, as people had to eat and had to die.
His family lived in Matlock Victoria; his father was a gold mine manager at Woods Point. Lance, joined the Australian Air force during the Second World War, flying was his passion. He left the air force as a Flight Lieutenant.
Lance returned to butchering, and in the early 1950’s bought the Glen Iris butchering business, where he was working, from the retiring owner.
Lance decided to build a modern butcher shop in Ashburton, but experienced trouble finding someone to excavate the shop foundations for a reasonable price. To overcome this Lance purchased an old cable-operated front-end loader and a Brockway tip truck from a Government auction and simply “did it himself”.
In the early 1950’s, while still running his butcher shop, Lance had many inquiries to carry out other excavating work in the area and so he found himself performing site levels, drainage and road works. Lance’s success was based on purchasing second hand earthmoving equipment, teaching him-self how to operate and repair it; he combined this with giving personalised service, which he learnt from butchering.
Lance began working for the brick, tile and pottery industry loading clay with cable operated face shovels and transporting these loads with war surplus Federal tip trucks. In 1965, after owning an old Vender and Caterpillar D7 dozers, Lance mortgaged the family house and the butcher shop, and purchased his first new D9 Bulldozer. His first scraper was a second hand Le Tourneau Westinghouse “Super C”, and not long afterwards he purchased 3 second hand “V Power Le Tourneau units, (these machines when new were driven on the road from Melbourne to W.A to build the Ord River Dam).
This earthmoving operation developed into Lance Smith Excavations P/L, as it is known today, which specialises in bulk earthmoving, stockpiling, and plant hire.
Lance did not believe in “luck’, he believed that a successful business was not due to one man alone. He considered he had been very fortunate in having the cooperation of loyal personnel and employees who shared his philosophy that “hard work never killed anyone.”
Lance Smith died from Prostate Cancer in 1991 aged 77.