He’s no desk jockey

Townsville Bulletin - - LIFESTYLE -

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.

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