By Luke Voogt
Belmont repairman Joseph Lam is set to leave a big vacuum in the local community when he closes his business after more than 30 years.
But at age 72, the Belmont grandfather and vacuum cleaner specialist has decided to retire and call the “end of an era” later this month.
“I don’t look like a 72-year-old; everybody tells me I look about 50,” he said.
“I just want to thank all my customers from over the years.
“That’s what I’ll miss – people in Geelong are so friendly.
“They’ll always ask, ‘do you want a coffee?’ and I’ll be like ‘no thanks, I’ve got a job to do. If I’ve got time afterwards, I’ll have one’.
Joseph was born in Hong Kong in 1949 and moved to Nauru with his family for his dad’s work before migrating to Australia in the late 1960s.
He was conscripted for national service in his new home country, but did not go to Vietnam as he was part of the second-last intake.
For 20 years he ran Geelong’s first Chinese grocer, before selling the business and travelling across the US in a Winnebago with his family, he said.
Unsure what to do when he got home, he had a go at fixing his own vacuum cleaner. Upon discovering a lack of local repairers, he went to Caufield to study the appliances, beginning his 30-year career.
“There are so many vacuums out there and there’s always one breaking down,” he said.
“When COVID-19 came I had a lot of people come to me buying bags. They were cleaning up their houses because they had nothing else to do!”
He reckons he has worked on tens of thousands of vacuums over the years.
“I’ve got so many loyal consumers, it’s incredible,” he said.