He’s no desk jockey
TOM Kennedy dogmatically refers to his staff as people who “work with me”.
He realises that, as partowner of Lamberts Fresh Produce in Townsville, he’s the boss and the 65 staff, technically, “work for him”. It’s just that this type of language conflicts with his style of management.
“We constantly push the theory that I’m not in charge,” Mr Kennedy said.
“That creates humility for me and for others, which then brings me greater respect among my peers.”
Life has also taught him that when you sit behind your title or hide behind your desk, you don’t get to know people for who they really are.
Which is why in the seven years since he bought Lamberts with business partner Michael Burge, he’s spent a lot of time working beside staff on the floor and has done more than his share of tying up hams, unpacking produce and taking out the rubbish.
At the same time, he and his partner have transformed Lamberts from purely a stockfeed business to the largest fresh fruit, vegetable and meat market in Townsville. And they still sell stockfeed.
“We just saw an opening there because no one was doing that kind of thing – where it’s wholesale and also sells to the public,” Mr Kennedy said.
Lamberts is now a major wholesaler of fresh meat in the city, supplying to hotels, restaurants and cafes, as well as direct to the public through the shop door.
To maintain this kind of supply, Lamberts has the largest butcher shop in the North, with 14 butchers processing about 18 head of cattle, 40 lambs, 20 pigs and 6.5 tonnes of chicken every week.
The bulk of these are sourced locally. For instance, the beef cattle are bought through Dalrymple Saleyards at Charters Towers and finished off on a green corn chop at the nearby Annavale Feedlot before going to the abattoir, then Lamberts.
Fresh produce is sourced directly from about 55 local farmers, while about 10 local farmers supply the business with stockfeed, hay and live poultry.
“The point of difference is that we deal directly with farmers and our supply chain is quite direct and quite con- trolled. It’s in and out,” he said.
Six months ago, Mr Kennedy made himself “redundant” from the day- to- day running of Lamberts – putting trusted staffer Luke Clasie in charge so he could take on the role of North Queensland livestock manager for Elders.
It’s something of a return to his roots, having grown up on a Cunnamulla sheep and cattle property, been a jackaroo in the Riverina and spent a dozen years working in the livestock division of Dalgety, now Land- mark. The Elders rs role has him m managing and nd training staff aff from 11 brannches, and proocuring cattle for or clients acrossoss Australia.
He also sources cattle for the Elders- owned Northern Australian Cattle Company, which exports about 140,000 head of cattle to foreign markets each year.
The job keeps him on the road much of f theh time, travelling between the Mareeba, Charters Towers and Emerald cattle sales during the season.
He’s OK with that, though. He’s never been the kind of manager to hide behind a desk.
LEVEL PLAYER: Tom Kennedy buying cattle at the Dalrymple Saleyards.
Checking out maiz e at
Anna vale F eedlot.