As a Regional Manager for the NSW Business Chamber, Kellon Beard’s role covers the area from Woolgoolga in the north to Forster-Tuncurry in the south – a huge undertaking, as he and his team work to assist local businesses grow and prosper. The Chamber advocates on behalf of businesses when it feels Government policies are not in their best interests, and it’s on hand for information and business advice when needed …
Hi Kellon. Please share a little of your history in the Port Macquarie area.
I moved to Port when I was 14 years old from Blacktown and completed 4th Form (Year 10) at St. Joseph’s Regional School.
After finishing Year 10, I worked briefly at Woolworths (Food for Less) until I obtained an electrical apprenticeship with a local electrician, Ross Hoy.
I moved back to Sydney in 1979 to work at Ultimo TAFE, as an electrician and scientific instrument maker.
I got off the tools in 1985 and started a career in purchasing within the NSW State Government and worked in various roles until early 1999, when I moved back to Port with my wife, Sharon and two young boys, Bryce and Ethan.
The move was prompted because I wanted my boys to go to school in Port Macquarie and at the time, the eldest, Bryce, was about to start school.
Sharon was not that keen to come to Port, but having purchased some land a couple of years earlier, I convinced her it was a great place to raise a young family.
My first role in Port was at MBC; I stayed there for two years and ended up running the business for the owners at the time.
After that role I had a number of other positions, before I started at the NSW Business Chamber.
How did you become involved with the NSW Business Chamber?
I first joined the Chamber as a member when I worked at MBC.
I saw so much value in the services the Chamber offered, I ensured that all other businesses I worked at were members, or they joined just after I started.
Whilst working at MBC, I was elected to the Regional Advisory Council (RAC) of the NSW Business Chamber.
This Council is made up of members who volunteer their time to make recommendations to the State Council of the Chamber.
I was a member of the RAC for five years, before I started working for the Chamber as Regional Manager in February 2006.
What’s your current role with the Chamber … and what does this position involve on a day to day basis?
My current role is Regional Manager for the Mid North Coast, so I cover the area from Forster-Tuncurry to Woolgoolga.
Every day with the Chamber brings something different and rewarding; my days are spent representing and assisting members with issues or problems they may have.
These issues vary widely, from concerns with Government legislation or red tape to sourcing information or products and services to help them grow their businesses.
For those not in the know, how does the Business Chamber hierarchy/structure work? Many people know there’s a Port Macquarie Business Chamber, or a Coffs Harbour Business Chamber, for example. How do these local chambers work with the NSW Chamber?
The NSW Business Chamber is an independent not for profit member organisation that’s been championing business interests for over 190 years.
We are a state-wide body and our organisation is a member of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), who in turn are members of the International Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Locally we work with most of the local Chambers across the Mid North Coast, including Port Macquarie, Camden Haven and Wauchope in the Hastings, and all the Chambers in the Coffs Coast area.
I am currently a member of the Board of the Port Macquarie Chamber of Commerce and one of only three Life Members, the other two being Janette Hyde and Peter Buckland, so I am in some really great company.
We provide local Chambers and their members access to our vast service offering through our various business units, to assist them in growing.
The Chamber is a passionate advocate for business in the public arena: whether standing up to government and decision makers when business interests are neglected, or working together to create positive change.
What are some of the things you most enjoy about living in Port Macquarie?
I enjoy the people I interact with from vastly different backgrounds and how they have the town’s best interests at heart.
The beautiful environment in which we live and the buzz of the town are what make this place the best place to live, work and play in Australia.
I have seen many changes across the area and how the town has grown; it is really starting to realise its potential.
Having the universities here has made a huge difference to the town, and with the expansion of Charles Sturt University, the future looks promising.
What are some of the key issues the NSW Chamber is working on in Port Macquarie at the moment?
The key issues we are working on at the moment are ensuring that members are compliant in the workplace relations area and that their concerns with Government at any level are heard and actioned on.
We are working across the region with a number of other organisations to tackle youth unemployment, which we see as a major issue for the community going forward.
What do you see as being some of the major challenges the Greater Port Macquarie area is facing at present … particularly in light of the recent Federal Election?
The major challenge for the Greater Port Macquarie area is how we handle our ever-increasing size and how we focus on growing our economy.
With the return of the Coalition Government, there should not be any major changes for business in the near future.
The NSW Business Chamber has great resources that are available to members, so I encourage any business to contact their local Chamber and if not already a member, then consider joining and making a difference.
Where can we find out more info about the NSW Business Chamber?
You can find out more about the NSW Business Chamber by going to our website, www.nswbusinesschamber.com.au or by calling me on 6590 2402.
Interview: Jo Robinson.