Busi­ness edge for new chief

Albany Advertiser - - NEWS - Cally Dupe

WAFarm­ers’ new chief ex­ec­u­tive Trent Kensett-Smith says he feels both ex­cited and wel­come af­ter his first week at the helm.

The for­mer Koch Fer­tilis­ers State man­ager spent his first five days at WAFarm­ers last week im­mersed in agri­cul­ture at the IGA Perth Royal Show.

It was the per­fect in­tro­duc­tion to an or­gan­i­sa­tion Mr Kenset­tSmith said was “so im­por­tant” to the State’s vi­brant agri­cul­tural sec­tor.

“There was a lot of lis­ten­ing, watch­ing and talk­ing to peo­ple at the show,” he said.

“It was a fan­tas­tic op­por­tu­nity to catch up with those in the in­dus­try, some of those that I al­ready know, but now in a new role.”

Mr Kensett-Smith and his fam­ily have called Nar­ro­gin home for the past eight years af­ter he took on a man­age­ment role at El­ders Nar­ro­gin in 2009.

The fam­ily, wife Kelly and the cou­ple’s three sons, Jack, 11, Mitch, 8, and Nate, 5, plan to re­lo­cate to Perth per­ma­nently by Christ­mas.

Mr Kensett-Smith said un­til then, he would live in Perth dur­ing the week and re­turn to Nar­ro­gin at week­ends, un­less re­quired for duty at WAFarm­ers.

The new chief said the or­gani- sa­tion planned to ex­pand its WAFarm­er­sFirst brand, which so far in­cludes milk, eggs, and honey.

“It’s some­thing we have spo­ken about, the pad­dock to plate men­tal­ity — there is a real foodie men­tal­ity in gen­eral at the mo­ment,” he said. “There is op­por­tu­nity to cap­i­talise on that — it’s one of those things that while the iron is hot, strike.

“We are look­ing at new prod­uct lines but the im­por­tant part about it is it is WA pro­duce, lo­cally pro­duced, and WA-pack­aged and mar­keted.”

Mr Kensett-Smith said his key fo­cus ini­tially would be to lis­ten and learn, to build the team environment and to col­lab­o­rate with farm­ers.

“Be­ing able to have an im­pact across the agri­cul­tural sec­tor, that was very ap­peal­ing to me,” he said.

“To be part of a team that has the op­por­tu­nity to in­flu­ence so much . . . for the ben­e­fit of so many peo­ple, that is ex­cit­ing.

“I would love agri­cul­ture to have more of a uni­fied voice . . . to have a uni­fied voice to take to the min­is­ters would be fan­tas­tic.”

Orig­i­nally from Griffith, New South Wales, Mr Kensett-Smith grew up on a rice, sheep and cat­tle farm 30km from the town.

He said his pas­sion for agri­cul­ture car­ried through his adult life af­ter study­ing agribusi­ness at the Univer­sity of Syd­ney.

Mr Kensett-Smith moved to WA in 2001 to take up a po­si­tion in Esper­ance and has since worked at Merredin, Dal­wallinu, Kalan­nie and Hy­den.

Be­fore tak­ing on the chief ex­ec­u­tive role at WAFarm­ers, he worked as the State man­ager of Koch Fer­tilis­ers un­til the com­pany with­drew from WA in Fe­bru­ary.

The fam­ily also spent two years in Mel­bourne be­tween 2007 and 2009, when Mr Kenset­tSmith took up a se­nior role with Land­mark.

While the pas­toral in­dus­try and agri-pol­i­tics are rel­a­tively new to Mr Kensett-Smith, he said he hoped to bring com­mer­cial ex­pe­ri­ence to the role.

“The role came up and a few peo­ple sug­gested it to me,” he said. “I put my hand up, hon­estly not ex­pect­ing to get it.

“I hadn’t had a lot to do with agri-pol­i­tics full-stop, and I al­most feel that is what part of the ap­peal . . . to have a com­mer­cial back­ground.”

I would love agri­cul­ture to have more of a uni­fied voice. Trent Kensett-Smith

Pic­ture: Cally Dupe

Trent and Kelly Kenset­tSmith with two of their three sons, Mitch, 8, and Nate, 5, at Nar­ro­gin.

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