"I went to university for a couple of years and I didn't enjoy university. The studying and the accountancy, economics, I just hated that stuff. Now the irony is here I am lawyer, accountant, I do it all day every day and sit at a desk. So I've never ended up where I wanted to be in many ways. I always wanted to be a farmer."— Gerry Harvey
Harvey first met Ian Norman while both were working as door-to-door vacuum salesmen. They partnered to open their first store in Sydney in 1961. The chain, which was called Norman Ross, expanded to forty-two stores with annual sales of A$240 million by 1979. The company expanded and now owns the Retailers Domayne, and Joyce Mayne, along with numerous other, smaller businesses. Harvey adopts a very hands-on approach to his Business, appearing as a spokesman during radio adverts for Harvey Norman. He frequently gives comment on economic and Business matters in the national press and television media and has a sizeable public profile. He is generally regarded as a slightly maverick businessman and is often critical of Australian CEOs, particularly when it comes to remuneration. He often states that no one is worth the millions they earn and that if they think they are worth more, they can be paid in options and shares.
Harvey had two children with his first wife, Lynette. He remarried to Katie Page in 1988; they have two children. In 1999 Page became the CEO of Harvey Norman.
In an interview in 2008 he described giving charity to the homeless as "a waste", and said that it was "helping a whole heap of no-hopers to survive for no good reason". He later claimed the comments were taken out of context and he did give money to homeless charities, among others.
In January 2011 Harvey was embroiled in a widely condemned campaign backed by a number of bricks and mortar Australian Retailers to scrap tax rules that allow Australians to shop on overseas websites without paying GST. In response to the campaign, the Federal Government asked the Productivity Commission to investigate and report on the Retail industry. Harvey subsequently said the report is a waste of time and money, and did not read it.
In 2014, the Business Review Weekly assessed Harvey's net worth at A$1.55 billion; an increase of A$9 million on the 2013 BRW Rich 200 list.
In 2016, Harvey expressed contempt for what he saw as political uncertainty since John Howard left office, and said the only solution is "to have a dictator like in China".