THE FAMILY of Bendigo truck and motorcycle businessman Steve Elliott say he was a larger than life personality.
The 51-year-old passed away in his sleep on Friday morning.
Mr Elliott’s wife Dianne Elliott described her late husband as a natural people person, who brought out the best in people. She said he was enthusiastic and passionate in his pursuits and always "took other people along for the ride".
"Steve knew that it took a great deal of hard work to be successful. He developed a vision for what was possible and over the next 20 years he achieved it. He liked to have a challenge."
Mr Elliott started what was to become Bendigo Truck Centre in 1987 from a single shed in Kangaroo Flat. “It was such a small shed we had to finish one truck before we could fit the next one in,” Mrs Elliott said.
From there the business flourished. Mrs Elliott said her husband always followed what he loved.
She said he would be remembered as a big personality in every sense, standing at six foot seven, with a distinctive red beard.
"He was a committed family man," she said. "He poured a great deal of energy into developing relationships with his customers at the truck dealership and Harley Central."
His step-son Euan McGowan said he was an inspiring man.
“I’ve always looked up to him,” Mr McGowan said.
"I was still at school when I first started working for him. He was a major role model for me. I think everyone idolised him in a way. He always worked extremely hard and was hard on me and on everyone else, but he was fair."
"He was a self-made man and he expected people to work like he did."
Mr Elliott returned from America earlier this month from a trip where he covered 16,000 kilometres on his Harley Davidson.
Harley Central colleague John Ridsdale said he would always remember his mate as “the man with the golden touch”.
“He seemed to have the knack with whatever business venture he tried at, it always succeeded,” he said.
“He was a great people person. One of those guys, you sort of feel proud to work for. Just the presence he had. Everyone knew him, or the people that hadn’t met him knew of him. He was a bit of a legend around the place.”
Mr Ridsdale said it would be hard to forget his distinctive red hair and beard. “He would walk down the stairs from a few metres away and you would see the beard coming before he got down."
I think everyone idolised him in a way.