On Wednesday 29 September business people from across the Macarthur Region gathered to pay tribute to three leading entrepreneurs from the Macarthur business community.
John Wisby, Joan Derks and Terry Fordham were inducted into the 2010 Macarthur Business Hall of Fame and presented with striking glass trophies as a memento of the occasion.
Guests at the event watched as the achievements of these three prominent Macarthur business people were highlighted on footage projected two giant screens.
Cr Anoulack Chanthivong, MACROC President, explains the history of the event, “In creating the Macarthur Business Hall of Fame in 2006, the Councils of the Macarthur region wanted to publicly acknowledge the significant contribution that certain individuals make to the success of this region. These individuals recognise that business success is more than just about making a profit; it is about actively supporting the area in which you conduct your business. It is about developing a strong sense of commitment to place and community.”
“This year MACROC is delighted to acknowledge three business entrepreneurs who have contributed not only to the creation of employment and economic growth in the Region but who have also been actively involved in contributing to the social fabric of our community. I am particularly pleased this year to welcome a business woman into the Hall of Fame. Joan Derks joins pioneer entrepreneur Elizabeth Macarthur, another passionate entrepreneurial woman.”
“These three individuals from such different backgrounds and in such diverse industries have one thing in common,” says Cr Chanthivong, “they have all actively sought to increase the economic and social capital of our Macarthur community. And for that we thank them.”
Biographies of the Inductees to the 2010 Macarthur Business Hall of Fame
John Wisby was born in Manly but the family later moved to Villawood. John was educated at Patrician Brothers Fairfield. In 1968 he married Christine Leonard and in 1980 the couple started their business Wisby and Leonard. Their first premises were at Moorebank but by 1998 they had outgrown this space and relocated to Campbelltown.
In the beginning the business specialised in stainless parts for the electrical power and transmission industries but later diversified to manufacture expandable conveyors and power belts. Currently most of the work is for the power generation industry and the railway industry as well as for the process measuring and technology industries. All work produced by Wisby and Leonard has to be of the highest accuracy.
Both of John’s sons, Adam and Michael, served their apprenticeships at Wisby and Leonard and have gone on to pursue successful careers in engineering. Wisby and Leonard currently employ 18 people full time, as well as one apprentice and two in-house trainees.
John has always been a strong advocate of the Macarthur region and in 2006 he joined Broens Industries to partner with MACROC at the National Manufacturing Week held in Darling Harbour to demonstrate the manufacturing capacity of the region.
John is now semi-retired and has turned his engineering expertise to learning to produce a product far removed from the sophisticated high tech equipment produced in his business. John is serving his “apprenticeship” with a wheelwright making wooden wagon wheels!
Derks Produce at Thirlmere was started in 1972 by Dutch immigrant Mario Derks. In 1991 Mario’s son Bill with his wife Joan took over the business and expanded what was a small family business into a very successful operation.
The Thirlmere business grew and prospered and in 2005 the Derks decided to expand and opened Derks Pet Supplies on Argyle in Picton. While the Thilmere business focuses on supply to rural properties with horses and livestock, the Picton business specialises in domestic pets and reptiles and aquariums.
Born in Liverpool but moving to the Central Coast of NSW when she was 6 years old Joan had little experience of rural life. Often not knowing the answers to questions she was being asked by customers she decided to hold an information day. The Derks Field Days were extremely successful and ran for ten years. At the ninth Field Day over 7,000 people attended in one day!
Winning the Dr Harry Competition was another major success for the business. To honour television veterinarian Dr Harry’s visit Joan and her team organised a mini Field Day and over 4,500 people came to meet Dr Harry and to receive information on how to care for their animals and domestic pets.
Derks continues to hold regular information nights to educate staff in the correct care and management of pets so they can better assist customers in their day to day enquiries. The team that Bill and Joan have assembled can handy almost any enquiry due to the special knowledge each staff member has.
Joan strongly believes that customer service is the key to the success of the business. Derks remains a local business, employing locals, providing a service to the local community.
Terry Fordham started TRN as an earthmoving business with his brothers Ron and Neil. The boys were born in Camden and their father was manager of Camden Constructions so it seemed a natural progression in 1966 for the brothers to strike out on their own.
From that beginning in 1966 with a single truck the company grew and in 1989 they formed Bulkhaul Limited with two other companies and won the tender for cartage rights for coal in the Burragorang Valley. The TRN Group is now a large civil engineering and haulage company that specialises in equipment hire, earthmoving, quarrying and haulage.
TRN has been involved in many major construction projects in Western Sydney, including Harrington Grove, Harrington Park, Macarthur Gardens, the Minto Renewal Project and the South Goulburn Industrial Park. The single biggest contract that TRN has won the tender for is Oran Park Town Centre, the largest residential development in Sydney in the last ten years.
Terry has also been involved in fundraising for The Flying Doctor and with colleagues has participated for many years in the Flying Doctor Outback Trek, raising over $500,000 for this valuable service.
TRN remains a family business, with the sons of the brothers now involved in the business. Many staff have been with the company from the beginning and now their sons are now working there too. Terry believes that the success of the company is bound up with the people who work for him: “They are the future of the business.”
Cr Anoulack Chanthivong
Mobile: 0412 413 377
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