How does BOQ back the Thorn Group?

When Jason Thorn arrived in Australia from Wales in 1991, he had just two suitcases and the tools of his trade to his name. Today, Jason runs Thorn Group – a successful commercial property development and management company. 

Underpinned by successful vertical integration and diversification strategies across multiple businesses, Thorn Group has evolved its business strategy over the past 20 years, with the support of BOQ Business.



“We have been with BOQ since the beginning and having them involved at every juncture has been critical to our business success,” says Jason. “From supporting our day-to-day business operations, large property transactions and international trade finance requirements, every project we have put forward has been well received and the team at BOQ have always supported our business and family,” Jason said.

From humble beginnings to start up success story

A refrigeration mechanic by trade, Jason’s first foray as a small business owner was into a sector he knew well with the launch of Snowdonia Airconditioning Services in 1997. Specialising in commercial air conditioning and mechanical services for high-rise residential and large industrial projects, Snowdonia grew from a start up to a thriving business which was sold in 2012. 

From those early beginnings with Snowdonia, Jason identified a gap in the market which led him setting up a direct wholesale importing business in 2000. Air Conditioning Direct (later renamed ACD Trade) served the air conditioning, refrigeration and electrical sectors by filling the gap left by wholesalers letting down the supply chain. 

“We wanted to give tradies the power to compete by setting up a one-stop shop. At the time, air conditioning in residential developments was a luxury, so we jumped on that opportunity,” said Jason. 

By developing close relationships with equipment manufacturers around the globe, Jason and the team’s strategy to vertically integrate their supply chain paid off. With a global supply chain spanning the USA, UK, China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand and Japan; ACD saw year-on-year growth which eventually grew into significant annual revenue streams. 

In 2017, Jason was approached by one of their UK-based trading partners about selling ACD Trade to their American parent company. After selling the business, Jason continued working for the new owners as the Australian CEO for the next three years, before deciding to leave the business and the industry he had been part of since completing his mechanical apprenticeship more than 30 years before. Before his tenure was complete, he was part of another large transaction to sell the business to a European-based global refrigeration/ heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) wholesaler.   

“The transactions we worked on during that time definitely stand out as the one of the biggest things I’ve done in my life. As a business owner from Brisbane negotiating with the American guys, having BOQ in our court was critical,” Jason said.


Where BOQ really nail it is how they get involved with their customers. They don’t look at their customers as numbers based on the size of their portfolio, but instead form deep-seated relationships
Jason Thorn Manager Director, Thorn Group


A strategic opportunity born out of necessity

The evolution of Thorn Group into commercial property development and management was initially borne out of necessity. Since building his first warehouse in 2000, Jason has had a strong interest in construction – but the proceeds from selling another business from within Thorn Group portfolio in 2003 gave them the capital to start investing in property development.

“With that initial capital we purchased a couple of sheds but then we needed to build larger premises and the next thing you know we started buying blocks of land in North Lakes. We were the first developer to start something there and ended up developing a number of developments in what eventually become a Stockland masterplan community,” said Jason.

Since then, Thorn Group has purchased a number of strategically positioned blocks of land around Brisbane for commercial development – all with the support of BOQ Business.  

Over the years, Thorn Group have accessed a full range of BOQ products and services ranging from commercial rate loans to international trade finance, equipment finance, business and home loans.  

“We have partnered with Jason to support Thorn Group’s commercial and industrial developments as well as the transactional elements involved in the sale and acquisition of their previous businesses,” said Richard Cleaver, Corporate Relationship Executive at BOQ.

“For both Thorn Group and BOQ we’ve effectively been ‘all in’ and that’s meant Jason has had a clear understanding of the bank’s appetite and in return, we’ve had full transparency in terms of where they are headed,” Richard said.

The future looks bright for Thorn Group with recently completed developments including a medical centre at North Lakes and distribution facility at Brendale, another two new developments due for completion in 2021, and a pipeline of new development opportunities on the horizon.

A long-term partnership for success

“Whether it’s personal or business, all good relationships are based on mutual respect,” Jason said.

“Where BOQ really nail it is how they get involved with their customers. They don’t look at their customers as numbers based on the size of their portfolio, but instead form deep-seated relationships. 

“Growing with the team at BOQ has really helped us grow our own business. And the reality is that being able to work directly with Richard and other senior BOQ leaders including Simon Davis, Brad White and Carl Classen has given us access to a level of expertise that we wouldn’t have had at a bigger bank,” Jason said. 

Highlighting that the strong working relationship between Thorn Group and BOQ has been built on mutual trust, understanding and transparency, Richard also said, “Jason has made it easy for us in terms of early engagement with full disclosure, access to information and their professional partners (including their accountants and lawyers), and a clear picture of what they intend to do.”


Despite the impact of COVID-19 on a previously busy travel schedule, Jason says Thorn Group has never been busier. “We still have to see how the world shakes out of the pandemic, but right now there are so many opportunities in front of us.”

When it comes to offering advice to other small businesses, Jason says, “Everybody always says you need a good accountant and that’s definitely true. But you also need a great bank that is able to understand your vision and be there for you at every juncture. The thing is when you can see opportunities, you need to have a good team around you,” said Jason. 

“It’s all about relationships and if the relationships are right and the cultural fit is right, the rest will take care of itself.