In Memoriam - Frank (Right) & Lui (Centre) Della Franca
Frank and Lui arrived in Australia, from Italy, in 1950. Frank was 14 and Lui 10. Their father Guiseppe had been in 'The new country' for 2 years beforehand and purchased their Dale road property in Karagullen, not long thereafter. With some fruit growing knowledge from their hometown in Italy, the father and sons team quickly established a viable orchard.
As business succeeded, they purchased the Irymple Road property in 1961 where they built a state of the art pack house and the first commercial cool store in Roleystone. They would store other growers fruit for months whereas they had previously not had the chance to do so.
In 1962 their mother passed away at the young age of 42 and Guiseppe went back to Italy. Two years later he remarried, and returned to a family unit that was destined for change.
Frank and Lui now had bigger plans for the future of the business, but Guiseppe was still happy to work the old ways. Father and sons went down their separate business paths at which time 'G Della Franca and Sons' became a thing of the past and 'Franca Bros' was born. Times were hard in the early years of Franca Bros, but both Frank and Lui believed that if no risk was taken, there would be no chance of success. Lui became a representative for the Apple and Pear Committee and filled the position of secretary for some time.
In 1974, Frank and Lui began importing fruit picking machines from Italy to the Hills of Perth ushering in a new age of harvest and mechanising the fruit industry. Their quote, "With a picking bag and a ladder, when you're climbing down, you look up and see a bunch of apples you missed and you just left them there. Now, with a touch of a foot pedal, you can easily go back up there and pick them". The era also brought in more advanced sprayers, which they also imported. As a testament to these great innovations, these exact machines are still in use in today's orchards after 40 years.
On the cusp of the eighties, Frank and Lui took another risk and bulldozed a large amount of fruit trees to plant a new and exciting fruit, the nectarine. Neither of them knew whether this would be a huge success or a crushing mistake. After grafting several hundred trees consisting of 7 different varieties, they could only wait and see when, or if, the trees would crop.A couple of years passed and, when the trees had suitably matured, the gamble had paid off with an abundance of fruit, yet not enough supply for the demand. Shop keepers were even going through the reject bucket.
In 1992, after ill health, Lui sold his share of the orchard to Frank and moved his family to the property in Karragullen where he began a new orchard with his three sons. After a short, but courageous fight against cancer, Lui passed away peacefully at home in 1999 at the very young age of 59. Frank continued to work the orchard with his son-in-law with the same gusto and passion he always did. Frank passed away a few years later at the age of 70, again with a brave fight against cancer.
Both brothers have their legacy living on with their respective children who, still to this day, operate the family farms. They both pioneered a lasting impression on this great industry and their contribution and dedication were second to none.