Mike Dunn was truly a giant of the flooring industry. A true leader who you could never underestimate, Mike always rose above expectations. Sadly, he recently passed but his wife of fifty years, Maureen, shares his inspirational story.
Mike Dunn can best be described as good family man and businessman. His school English master said “Mike was resolute and resourceful. You could confidently recommend him for any job, knowing that he would render diligent, able and honest service and be a reliable companion in times of crisis.” You could never underestimate Mike; he always rose above expectations, he never procrastinated, quickly deciding and working for a positive outcome. He was a true leader who offered direction and encouragement, always with a sense of humour. His approach to business was to display honesty, integrity, trust and respect. He said once, “We will often face complications and mistakes, it’s how we handle them that matters.”
Mike was born on January 18th, 1949 to parents Ivy, a pastry chef and Edward Dominic, always known as Ted, a stevedore. He had an older sister, Brenda. Mike always said he had a very happy childhood; his mum came from a family of 5 brothers and 2 sisters and his dad had 4 brothers and a sister. Their family lived in the east end of London and were extremely close. There were regular family get togethers, usually at Mike’s parents’ home with card nights, and the cousins in Mike’s room arguing over which LP they would listen to on his record player. It was Mike’s record player so he would always win. Family holidays were often spent camping on a farm with his good friend Harry and his family. Imagine Mike on the back of his dad’s motorbike and his mum in the side car surrounded by all the luggage!
Mike went to Raines Foundation school in London, a well-known school for its academic and sporting achievements. He had a lot of ability and one thing most people don’t know about Mike is that he was the equivalent of our Queensland’s school’s chess champion. His greatest love though was sport and he played a big part in the sporting success at the school, forging lifetime friends. Mike left school early at the age of 15, finding a job in a small but successful company in the city. He was happy to learn, eventually progressing up the ladder into credit control and then he tried his hand at selling ladies hosiery, something that led to plenty of jokes around the rugby club.
Mike met Maureen, the love of his life during his time at school when her family moved into the same apartment block Mike lived in. They married in 1969 in September last year, celebrated a milestone 50 years together. In 1972 they went on a working holiday to Auckland and lived in Remuera for nearly a year. At the time they were deciding between Canada and New Zealand as a place to live. They thought, “Well, we can always visit Canada.” One of Mikes school friends lived in Auckland, so that was it. Mike worked for a large meat company in Otahuhu before returning to England in 1973 to work for a supermarket chain in credit control.
In 1975 Mike was offered a really good position with Lombards as a new business representative but although it was hard leaving their families, he and Maureen, now pregnant, decided to return to New Zealand, a place they had fallen in love with. It was a busy year with the birth of their daughter Keely, and Mike starting his first job in the flooring industry when he accepted a position as accounts manager at Kensington Carpets. The family thought about moving back to the UK when Mike’s mother and shortly after, his father died but support from their family and friends persuaded them to stay in New Zealand. Their son Courtney was born in 1977 and their family was complete.
The Journey Begins
Mike stayed with Kensington Carpets and was promoted to distribution manager before being transferred to Feltex head office as export sales manager, responsible for the USA market. They were a strong, successful team and Maureen remembers Mike was asked to undertake skills assessment testing to ascertain his potential. The testing showed he had university level intelligence and basically not good at mechanics. Maureen says, “Well, I could have told them that and saved them a lot of money.” his manager at the time was Doug Tooth and the general manager was John Burridge, a man Mike admired and considered a true gentleman and leader.
In 1984 Mike decided to take a sideways step career wise and he was transferred to Adelaide South Australia in the role of commercial sales manager, just a one-man band. Feltex had never had an office in Adelaide before and Mike found there were many opportunities to grow their representation and he covered areas as far away as Darwin and Alice Springs. He was successful in winning the old Sheraton Slice Springs and parliament house Canberra.
It was in Adelaide that he met Graham Hughes. They struck up a really good working relationship and shared many an afterwork drink together. Mike joined the Brighton Rugby Club and played 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade for them, one of the oldest to do so at the time and was fortunate to be part of the club winning all three premierships … a massive night. Courtney also played for the club and Mike coached his team for two years.
Mike’s success did not go unnoticed and in 1986 he was promoted to head office Melbourne as commercial manager and in a short period of time to general manager, Australia. It was a role he relished and once again he was able to improve performance across the board. He worked with a wonderful team and their success could not be ignored. His motto always was work hard and play hard but turn up the next morning ready to play a part. Yes, there were many late-night drinks and much hilarity after conferences.
In 1989 Brian Heldon of Master Carpet Company approached Mike to come up to Queensland, become a shareholder and take charge of sales. Mike knew that MCC was a successful company and Brian wanted to ease out of the company. Mike increased turnover and profit in a short period of time. Then the finance manager resigned, and Mike became general manager and in time, sole owner of the company. Mike was able to repay Brian for his trust and the rest, as they say, is history.
MCC later acquired Kelwin carpets headed by Clarke Cameron and his two sons Jeff and Glenn. Mike then changed the working name of the company to Master Kelwin Floors. Mike and Clarke had a really good working relationship and instantly became friends, right up until Clarke passed away. Mike and his son Courtney formed Master Floor Preparers and Master Floor Group and are very proud of their many iconic installations such as the Treasury Casino; Versace hotel; Q1; Jupiter’s casino; convention centre; schools; supermarkets; hospitals; medical centres and even prisons.
Courtney Dunn is still Managing Director of Master Floors Group, founded in 2004 at the time of the Q1 project to handle their floor preparation requirements. More recently, Master Floor Coverings was established, and both operate under the umbrella of Master Floors Group, an entity like MCC and Master Kelwin Floors that has grown and provides professional trustworthy service. The company has a turnover of over $30 million.
Mike never lost his love for playing sport and played rugby wherever they travelled. His last game was for Surfers Paradise Rugby Club playing at Ballymore in the master’s games at the age of 43. They always joked about the game as Mike scored a try at each end of the field wearing Courtney’s boots, which Courtney said was the reason he did. Mike was truly an amazing, loving, funny man and sadly, passed away of ill-health in September 2019.
Mike was not driven by ego, but a desire to be in control of his own destiny. To back his abilities and belief in a strong and happy team with a strong financial and admin support and for all to enjoy the success and reward for hard work. Throughout Mike’s journey in the flooring industry he was always grateful and enjoyed the relationships he had with everyone. His staff; installers; suppliers; contractors; developers; builders; other companies with a lot becoming true friends. Mike’s frequent piece of advice was, “Never be afraid to ask dumb questions. They are far easily handled then dumb mistakes.”