Robert Nettlefold was born on 25 July 1877 at Tunnack, son of Thomas and Susanna. He was educated at Rev. Gray's grammar school, leaving to gain experience in a succession of businesses before beginning his own in 1904 as a general merchant in Macquarie Street, Hobart. On 29 October 1898 he married 19-year-old Edith Maria Hutchison from Adelaide, at Bellerive. A representative of the Victoria Insurance Co. Ltd in 1905-12, he combined selling fire insurance to farmers with dealing in their wool, skins and produce, later selling them their farm machinery through his franchise from the International Harvester Co. (Australia) Pty Ltd. In 1910 he founded the motor garage business, Robert Nettlefold Pty Ltd. In 1920 he was foundation chairman of the Hume Pipe Co. (Australia) Ltd, he resigned in 1929. Chairman of Motors Pty Ltd, Yellow Cabs (Tasmania) Pty Ltd and of Robert Nettlefold Pty Ltd, he was a director of Mercantile Mutual Insurance Co. Ltd and one of the founders of Commercial Broadcasters Pty Ltd. In 1920 he was appointed O.B.E. for his war-time Red Cross activities: foundation treasurer for southern Tasmania (1914-45), he was chairman of the Lady Clark Red Cross Convalescent Home in 1940-45 and of the Veterans' Trust, a British Red Cross fund. He was a foundation member of the Hobart Rotary Club and committee-member of the Royal Agricultural Society. In the mid 1930's Robert was succeeded by his son Len as Managing Director of Robert Nettlefold Pty Ltd.