AS far as father-and-son combinations go, Croydon South's Pahay Htoo and Lay Htoo could stake a claim to being one of the best.
After fleeing war-torn Burma and settling in a Thai refugee camp, the pair — along with their family of nine — came to Australia in 2008.
Now Pahay and Lay's remarkable journey has culminated in a fresh start and full-time work with Knoxfield-based landscape restoration company Recoland.
They have become an inspiration among the many migrants who have left Burma to start a new life in Melbourne's outer eastern suburbs.
In 2010 Beth Dooley, a volunteer for multicultural language group AMES, told Recoland director and friend Michael Gitsham about the untapped gardening talent in these newly arrived migrants.
Mr Gitsham's ears pricked up, and he employed Pahay and Lay as part of the company's casual planting crew.
"From day one they showed incredible initiative," he says.
"They really wanted to show us they were hard workers, make a difference and give back for showing faith in them.
"That's just how their culture is — they don't like to take anything.
"We would tell them to have a lunch break and they would be back working within five minutes."
Pahay, 20, and Lay, 45, were then given full-time jobs — something seen as a crowning achievement for newly arrived migrants.
The Htoos are Karen people, an ethnic group based mainly in Burma but also in Thailand.
While their English is fairly limited, Pahay can tell you the exact date his family arrived in Australia and that he enjoys the exercise as part of his job at Recoland.
Recoland's business systems manager Adam Cole, who has co-ordinated their development within the company, says their hard work and polite attitude is a credit to them.
"If we tell them to be at a job site at 6.30am, they'll be there at 6am," he says with a laugh.
"Sometimes I tell them the job starts later so they can arrive on time.
"We all really enjoy working with them, and it's great to simply employ good people, no matter where they're from."
Mr Cole paid tribute to Mission Australia and Reid and Partnership for assisting the transition into the workplace.