COVER STORY:

The man who turned around the Coast’s Turf Club is re­tir­ing

Life & Style Weekend - - WELCOME // INSIDE TODAY - layne.whit­[email protected]­news.com.au Layne Whit­burn

IT’S the end of an era. Sun­shine Coast Turf Club (SCTC) CEO Mick Sul­li­van is pre­par­ing him­self for a well-earned re­tire­ment at the age of 65 as of Au­gust 31, af­ter 17 years with the club.

He is the man held re­spon­si­ble for trans­form­ing the SCTC’s fi­nan­cial vi­a­bil­ity around but Mick says he’s not tak­ing all the credit.

“I’m so proud of the whole jour­ney and turn­around of the club’s fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion over the 17 years… but it’s been a team ef­fort,” Sul­li­van said.

“When I started in 2000, it was a great club but it was only 15 years old at the time and in a very dif­fi­cult fi­nan­cial po­si­tion. Most rac­ing clubs have such a rich his­tory, how­ever the SCTC en­dured a lot of fi­nan­cial strug­gles be­ing such a young club.

“Be­ing part of the tran­si­tion from a strug­gling, provin­cial club to a provin­cial metropoli­tan rac­ing club has been great. Plus, the im­prove­ments to the fa­cil­i­ties have been enor­mous.”

SCTC Chair­man Peter Boyce said the hum­ble CEO’s im­pact on the club’s turn­around has been re­mark­able and the po­si­tion he is leav­ing the club in en­ables plenty more op­por­tu­ni­ties to grow.

“Mick has been there more than half the life of the club,” Boyce said.

“When he first ar­rived, the club was in dire fi­nan­cial cir­cum­stances and now he is leav­ing it in an ex­cep­tion­ally good po­si­tion fi­nan­cially.”

Mick is hand­ing his po­si­tion over to former Al­bury Rac­ing Club CEO, John Miller.

“John is walk­ing into a great club with lots of po­ten­tial,” Sul­li­van said.

“There’s still lots of room for growth within the club but also

The club was in dire fi­nan­cial cir­cum­stances and now he is leav­ing it in an ex­cep­tion­ally good po­si­tion.

with the cur­rent de­vel­op­ment on the Coast with the new Sun­shine Coast Univer­sity Hos­pi­tal and Caloundra South, there’s a lot go­ing on and it’s ex­cit­ing.”

While the fu­ture is ex­cit­ing, now is the time to re­flect on the out­stand­ing ca­reer of the man re­spon­si­ble for get­ting the SCTC to where it is to­day.

Good friend of Mick, Les Bor­rack, said Mick started his

work­ing life in 1968 with the ANZ Bank at Ouyen in Vic­to­ria. Mick was trans­ferred to Mel­bourne af­ter two years and de­spite a

rapid pro­mo­tion to se­nior teller, Mick de­cided bank­ing wasn’t for him. So, he set off trav­el­ling the East­ern Seaboard over a few years where he worked in ho­tels, labour­ing jobs and played foot­ball.

“Mick re­turned to Vic­to­ria and then joined the Leader News­pa­per Group. Again, pro­mo­tion saw him be­come credit

man­ager and then dis­tri­bu­tion man­ager for 10 news­pa­pers,” Bor­rack said. “In 1976, he de­cided to travel over­seas and he went to Eng­land, Ire­land, Scot­land, Bel­gium, France, Italy, Switzer­land,

Aus­tria, Nether­lands, Spain, East and West Ger­many. It has been sug­gested that the lat­ter was his favourite, largely be­cause of

the beer fes­ti­vals. “On his re­turn home, he worked briefly as an of­fice man­ager be­fore be­ing asked by Leader News­pa­pers to take on the role of sales man­ager. He held that po­si­tion un­til 1980.”

In 1977, Mick mar­ried Carmel and to­gether they ven­tured into the hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try.

“In 1981 they leased the In­ver­leigh Ho­tel – about 25kms from Gee­long – and their tim­ing was im­pec­ca­ble as In­ver­leigh was on

Mick Sul­li­van’s en­cy­clopaedic knowl­edge of rac­ing has won him plenty of champagne over the years

the route of the big­gest power line con­struc­tion project in Vic­to­ria’s his­tory,” Bor­rack said. “The work­ers were a hun­gry, and more im­por­tantly, thirsty

lot.”

It was here Mick met Les, a reg­u­lar cus­tomer of the In­ver­leigh

Ho­tel. “The three of us joined the Gee­long Thor­ough­bred Club in 1981,” Bor­rack said.

“In that era, the club was very suc­cess­ful, and at­tracted guest speak­ers at its monthly Fri­day lunch meet­ings. Colin Hayes was the first we heard.” Bor­rack said one of the fea­tures of the lunch was the trivia

quiz. Mick’s en­cy­clopaedic knowl­edge of rac­ing meant they were reg­u­lar win­ners of the champagne.

“I had al­ways been im­pressed by Mick’s knowl­edge of rac­ing and by his abil­ity to get on with peo­ple, and I sug­gested that he con­sider be­com­ing a rac­ing club chief ex­ec­u­tive,” Bor­rack said.

So, he did. Mick ap­plied for a job at the Mur­rumbidgee Turf Club at Wagga Wagga. It was here he im­ple­mented the 100 Club in 1996, an in­cred­i­bly suc­cess­ful con­cept which he later brought with him to the Sun­shine Coast in 2001.

“The 100 Club pro­vides a great op­por­tu­nity for busi­nesses to get in­volved and put their brand in front of thou­sands of peo­ple

across Aus­tralia and over­seas for a rea­son­able cost,” Sul­li­van said.

Boyce agrees the 100 Club was one of Mick’s most in­flu­en­tial con­tri­bu­tions to the fi­nan­cial sta­bil­ity for the SCTC and a last­ing legacy. Mick was head hunted by del­e­gates from the SCTC and in

2000 he moved to the Sun­shine Coast with his wife Carmel and their two daugh­ters to start what was about to be an

out­stand­ing 17-year trans­for­ma­tion of horse rac­ing on the Sun­shine Coast. “Mick’s knowl­edge of the ins and outs of horse rac­ing is

sec­ond-to-none and this is what makes him an as­set to the in­dus­try,” Boyce said. “He un­der­stands how every­thing op­er­ates from rac­ing Queens­land to the train­ers, jock­eys, stew­ards… every­thing. “It’s im­por­tant to un­der­stand how every­thing works to be able

to make any head­way.”

Mick said he feels very for­tu­nate to have been able to work

and con­trib­ute to the in­dus­try he has loved his en­tire life. While re­tire­ment is near, Mick says he will no doubt be a reg­u­lar vis­i­tor at the track.

“I will def­i­nitely be catch­ing up with friends over the Spring Car­ni­val sea­son,” Sul­li­van said. Mick said he is also look­ing for­ward to spend­ing more time with his two grand­sons, 3-year-old Leo and 1-year-old Ned. “Ob­vi­ously, I’m feel­ing a lit­tle ner­vous about re­tire­ment,”

Sul­li­van said.

“It’s a ner­vous time, you al­ways won­der if you are do­ing the

right thing… but I feel it’s right. Fam­ily time is im­por­tant. “I’ve left the club with great fi­nan­cial sta­bil­ity and I’m sure it will con­tinue to grow.”

You al­ways won­der if you are do­ing the right thing... but I feel it’s right. Fam­ily time is im­por­tant.

PHOTO: KARI BOURNE

Flash­back to 2010: Mick Sul­li­van out­side the con­struc­tion site of the new sta­bles at Cor­bould Park.

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED BY SCTC

2012: Aerial shot of grounds prior to paint­ing, re­fur­bish­ment of Champagne Gar­den/Mem­bers area.

PHOTO: BARRY LEDDICOAT

Mick Sul­li­van was look­ing for­ward to the tills over­flow­ing af­ter the an­nual Caloundra Cup race meet­ing back in 2007.

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED BY SCTC.

2012: Close up of Champagne Gar­den prior to re­fur­bish­ment.

PHOTO: PA­TRICK WOODS

CEO of Sun­shine Coast Turf Club Mick Sul­li­van is re­tir­ing on Au­gust 31 af­ter 17 years with the club.

PHOTO: PA­TRICK WOODS

Ac­tion from Cor­bould Park, Caloundra, as jockey Nathan Thomas on Get On takes out the 2016 James Ack­er­man Cup over 1600m.

PHOTO: NI­CHOLAS FAL­CONER

2004: Mick Sul­li­van takes a call, one of many, as the fi­nal touches are made to Cor­bould Park .

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