Barrie Coltman passes away

by | Sep 6, 2021

Barrie Coltman

Barrie Coltman

The Ballarat community is celebrating the life of highly regarded businessman hardware retailer, Barrie Coltman.

Mr Coltman was well-known from his four decades leading WF Coltman Pty Ltd – better known as Coltman Mitre 10, and for his commitment to the local community, according to a recent report by The Courier.

He passed peacefully, aged 88 on September 3 and is survived by his four children Craig, Steven, Lisa and Tania, their partners, his grandchildren and great grandsons.

Son, Steven Coltman, said in the report, that thousands of people had worked for his father and Ballarat families had connected with him for a long time.

“He will be remembered as a fantastic businessman, employer, family man and friend. You will not find many people who would speak an ill word of my father and that was an absolutely amazing credit to him. He managed to bring the best out of everyone.”

W.F. Coltman Pty Ltd was founded in 1982 by his grandfather William F. Coltman.

The store has become a Ballarat icon with its mysterious trademark ‘WtoW’, which remains a tightly held family secret. Son Steven said many customers had tried to guess the meaning of ‘WtoW’, yet no one had got it correct.

The business joined the Mitre 10 group during Mr Coltman’s time and expanded to include branches in Ballarat, Sebastopol, Bacchus Marsh and Melton, while also serving on the served on the Mitre 10 board for many years.

Sons Craig and Steven followed Mr Coltman into the business with Craig saying his Dad always gave them the chance to experiment and try new things.

“He was never an impediment; he was always ready to embrace new ideas and be very progressive. He did not rely on the norms. He liked to challenge and challenge us to do the best we could do,” Steven said.

Craig said the culture in the business was so every employee was considered a part of the Coltman family.

“If there was a child born there would be a new washing machine turn up. Dad was always looking to see what he could do for others to make their life better,” Craig said in the report.

Mr Coltman married Kathleen Carole Coltman (nee Stevens), who he was introduced to at a function at the Ballarat Golf Club on March 11, 1960.

They remained married until her death in 2012.

Mr Coltman was an active sportsman, a member of the YMCA, Ballarat Vikings Basketball Club and Ballarat Yacht Club in his early years and later a member of the Beagle Walking Club.

Golf was his main passion after joining Ballarat Golf Club in 1949, becoming the club’s youngest captain and he was the longest serving member when he died.

Mr Coltman was known for his contribution to the Ballarat community, but Craig said many would not be aware of the full extent because he did not promote his involvement and often made anonymous donations.

Mr Coltman also chaired the Ballarat and Clarendon College Foundation for many years and was heavily involved in the business networks, especially the Chamber of Commerce and Manufacturing.

He supported the establishment of several Ballarat organisations including the Fiona Elsey Cancer Research Institute, Ballarat Arts Foundation, Kids Foundation and Springfest Market.

The Ballarat Agricultural and Pastoral Society, Royal South Street Society, RSPCA and Salvation Army are some of the other organisations he supported over many years.