Our story

Greenspan : Crafting Excellence Since 1976

As we reflect upon nearly 50 years of Greenspan history, we invite you to share in our fascinating story of evolution. A journey from humble beginnings in 1976 through to today, we take pride in being a third-generation Australian family business. It’s an inspirational tale of innovation, precision, and a tireless commitment to crafting excellence. 

So, put the kettle on, take five and come along with us on this trip down memory lane. 

Chapter 1: Founder’s vision 

1976.

Influenced by his father, an engineer, and being a builder himself, Ray Chesterfield had a vision.

Inspired by the idea to construct groundbreaking plant-growing structures, Greenspan was founded. Specialising in horticultural buildings and glasshouses, Ray began manufacturing large ‘prefabricated’ outdoor structures.

Constructing glasshouses required extreme precision, and Ray’s projects, in particular, were highly specialised and detailed. Comprising intricate modular components of slabs, frames, and glass, each structure came together with meticulous precision. Ever the innovator and problem-solver, Ray incorporated technologies to further meet the challenges of plant cultivation. Cutting edge for the time, these included automated misting systems, air conditioning, and UV lighting.

These design solutions and problem-solving abilities quickly won Ray major contracts for large-scale greenhouses. And so, in 1978 he purchased some land and established his first factory in Ryde.

The economic downturn in the late 1970s led to heightened competition from major players in the glass structure construction industry. But Ray was not to be deterred. Staying ahead of the game, he adapted by transitioning to modular tube greenhouse structures.

Chapter 2: Introducing Doug 

Meanwhile, Ray’s son, Doug, was following in his father’s footsteps. A passion for designing, solutioneering and crafting was in his blood. During the school holidays, he joined his dad in the factory, and he too developed an interest in precision design and manufacturing. Heading onto site as the structures were installed, gave Doug further insight …and he was hooked! 

 

Chapter 3: The next era

In 1982, Doug joined the business full-time, taking the business into a new era and allowing the entrepreneur in Ray to start chasing the next big idea (but that’s a story for another time!).

With a passion for finding solutions and creating new products, Doug and Ray started running ads for small timber garden structures, typically 2m squared. Cubbies, dog kennels and cedar sheds were popular backyard additions.

Much to their surprise though, they soon began receiving requests for modifications. It seemed that customers were interested in being able to include features like bedrooms or kitchens and, in doing so, create additional living spaces.

The design of these garden structures started to evolve to meet customers’ needs. Simultaneously, the production process was refined to ensure minimal waste, highly efficient modularity, and precision installation. A necessity to ensure that every component would fit on the back of the company ute, ready for delivery to site!

In 1988, a display structure was built and placed in the factory car park. A graphic artist created artwork that showed it in an autumnal country setting. No one else was creating modular cabins – this concept was groundbreaking! The very first ‘Cedarspan’ Cabin was born…and the products rapidly gained traction.

Cabin with autumn trees behind

 

Sidenote: The history of Melwood

We’ll take another historical detour here. You could argue that the Greenspan history goes back way further than 1976. And this is the story of how the Melwood name came about.

During the 1930s, Ray’s grandfather owned an apple orchard in regional NSW. This idyllic upbringing served as the perfect environment for a young mind fascinated by engineering solutions. Ray’s father exhibited a knack to mend vehicles at an early age, setting the stage for helping his future son Ray as a solutioneer.

However, the unpredictability of the harsh Australian weather took its toll, and the orchard began to face hard times. In a cruel twist of fate, a thunderstorm took out the entire crop. Faced with an urgent need to create their own apple crates, Ray’s father – at home from university at this time – ingeniously converted an old Buick into a sawmill. Over time, the apple farm was wiped out and transformed into a timber cutting and milling venture.

Have you ever wondered about the little red apples in the (now old) Melwood logo?

Chapter 4: The introduction of Cedarspan 

Let’s get back on track.

As the Melwood Cedar Sheds & Cedarspan Cabins continued to evolve more and more people were asking for a versatile loft cabin to place on their rural property. Naturally, Ray and Doug jumped at the opportunity to design solutions for this need and the Cedarspan Loft range was introduced in the 1990s. This showcased that larger cabins, barns and cottages with loft spaces could also be PreCrafted, delivered in modular components on a truck, and installed on virtually any site. When the first loft cabin hit the market, rapid popularity quickly led to success and expansion. With this came the need for a larger PreCrafting workshop and the business moved to premises in Girraween in 1998, doubling the production space.

Chapter 5: A 21st-Century approach

The turn of the millennium arrived, and Greenspan continued to evolve as the 21st century got underway. Doug and Ray continued to develop design solutions with a clear focus on making the best product, with minimal waste and environmental impact.

As internet usage started to become mainstream, the importance of an online presence was recognised. In true pioneer spirit, the first website was launched to embrace the opportunities presented by this new technology.

Chapter 6: 2010 – 2020: The beginning of the next phase

In 2010, the third generation of Chesterfields – Doug’s son, John – joined the business. Sharing his father’s passion for finding solutions, refining established products and designing new ones, a new spirit of growth emerged. Shortly after, John’s sister Ella – another of Doug’s five children – came on board. Meanwhile, 30+ years after founding the business, Ray hung up his tools.

The business moved into its next growth phase, with innovation and creativity driving expansion. Melwood Mod and Porch designs were launched, introducing a more contemporary option to the established traditional designs. A Display Centre was opened in Neutral Bay to provide a tangible experience of the quality and versatility of Melwood products.

Products and processes continued to be refined to ensure the best outcome for customers, the business and the environment. A highly contemporary and sophisticated statement garden room, eSpace, was added to the expanding range of solutions.

And as the decade continued, Doug, John and Ella were joined by two more third generation siblings – Jemma and Laura.

eSpace by Greenspan garden room

Chapter 7: The pandemic

Then came 2020, and the world changed.

Families across the country had to adjust to spending more, and in some cases all, of their time at home. The Chesterfield family responded by providing Greenspan lifestyle space solutions that would allow families to comfortably live, work and study together 24/7.

The last and youngest of the third-generation siblings, Amy, joined the team. And, although already distributing nationwide, an office was opened in Adelaide to allow a closer connection with the South Australian customer.

Chapter 8 and onwards: Our future awaits

Today, our caring family team, whether by name or kinship, is 32 strong across six locations.

We are proud to continue to lead the way in PreCrafted living spaces. And in the spirit of our founder and all who have come after him, we continue to refine, evolve and innovate.

So, as we approach our 50th year, we begin the next chapter of our story. One that will maintain this legacy for the fourth generation to come.

And our book has a new cover.

As we unveil our fresh, new look, we have so many exciting things in the pipeline. We can’t wait to share the next stage of our journey with you and hope you come along for the ride!

Stay tuned!

White barn

Do you want to be part of our story? 

Book a Discovery Call with one of our Design Solutioneers and be included in the next chapter.