‘My name is Sue, how do you do?’
That classic Johnny Cash song from 1969 tells the story of a father who knew he wasn’t going to stay, but wanted to ensure his son grew up tough. So, he gave his boy a girl’s name.
In China you weren’t named Sue, you were named Erguniang (it’s not pronounced phonetically as it appears in English either!). At least that’s what happened to Waco Tao, and while his father did stay, just like the boy in the song, that name shaped Waco’s life.
“I’m the second of three boys,” says Waco. “After me, my parents were desperate for a girl however they got another son and thought ‘oh not again!’, so they started treating me like a girl.
“My Mum called me Erguniang, which means second daughter, and I was taught all the girly stuff, like knitting and embroidery.”
That led Waco to develop an interest in model-building: “not that models are girly, it just seemed a natural progression.”
Who would have thought that an innocent nickname given to him by his mother would lead Waco down a path to the establishment of PowerHouse Homes.
The introduction on the website outlines the business perfectly: ‘PowerHouse Homes is a Melbourne based prefab housing company specialising in R&D, manufacture and construct of prefab buildings catering for both residential and commercial markets.’
But to understand how a ‘girly’ upbringing has lead to such an innovative company, you have to go back, way back – back to before Waco even arrived in Australia.