POWER 30: Gympie region's most influential people #1-30
THERE have been quite a few changes to the list of the Gympie region's most influential people this year.
Some of the Power 30 from 2017 have slipped off the 2018 list, some have jumped up the list or gone down in ranking.
It was a fresh new committee of four that decided in good faith the final 30 names and what order they should appear this year, representing Gympie region civic leaders and business.
As we have strived to reinforce at every turn, we know that putting together such a list is not science and we welcome any and all feedback. Tell us who you think should have been included, or maybe someone you think should not be on the list at all.
However you feel about it, we hope there is plenty of discussion:
#30 COLLEEN MILLER
COLLEEN Miller is not only the face of the Gympie and Districts Netball Club, she has been an integral part of growing the sport in this region.
Mrs Miller has come in at #30 on the 2018 list of Gympie's 30 most influential people.
Since taking up netball six years ago, Mrs Miller has been leading the charge as president for two years and has seen player numbers grow to 380 members today.
There has been a jump back into representative netball after a period of Gympie not fielding teams, which has raised the profile of the club in the wider region.
Reaching out to neighbouring netball associations like Maryborough and Noosa has led to Gympie competing in representative carnivals, and developing the local umpire program.
Mrs Miller has overseen the strengthening of Gympie's relationship with the Sunshine Coast Lightning. The Lightning's Samsung Ambassador Program was introduced in 2017, with regional clubs allocated one Lightning player as their ambassador, which has been a great inspiration for young Gympie players coming through.
Gympie ambassador Steph Wood has visited several times this year. Recently, she gave a coaching lesson to Gympie netballers, invaluable for their growth and continued passion for the game.
It has been through this drive, that Mrs Miller has been included in the list of Gympie's 30 most influential people of 2018.
#29 TONY GOODMAN
SITTING at #29, Gympie businessman Tony Goodman is passionate about promoting Mary St to locals and visitors alike.
Mr Goodman is a member of the Gympie Town Centre Stakeholder Reference Group, a group of business people and community members committed to promoting what he calls "The Heart of the City”.
He is also on the board of the Gympie Chamber of Commerce.
The man with the plan to see regular events in Mary St adopted with some kind of permanency is delighted the Gympie Regional Council has embraced the concept he had a major hand in starting four years ago.
Looking back on that, Mr Goodman said he knew Mary St needed an injection of life.
"People were commenting on the decline and how shops were becoming empty and staying empty,” he said.
"I wanted to showcase the heart of Gympie and make it a destination and a point of difference to the shopping centres.”
The quarterly events he helped inspire and which were organised by a group he was involved in, the Mary Street Traders, are now regularly attended by thousands of people.
Mr Goodman feels the GRC's willingness to get behind the initiative and help shoulder the burden of funding will only help the celebrations to grow.
"Now that council has embraced it, it's great to see,” he said.
"I use the lifeboat example and the number one rule in a life boat is we all row together. A strong, dynamic and vibrant town centre sends psychological ripples out into the community,” he said.
#28 RON OWEN
ONE man. One shop. One huge influence.
An endless campaigner for people's right to own firearms, Ron Owen continues to play a large role in region economically and politically.
His reach is not small, either.
He sends more than 10,000 emails out every week, and his magazine Lock, Stock and Barrel is a hugely popular read.
His passion even extends to the past; a love visible in the gun museum he opened last year which includes some firearms which date back to the 1870s.
In the past year his already tireless campaign to finally bring about a solution to the more-than- 25-year-old problem of a Gympie shooting ratcheted up another notch.
Along with making it a major piece for the Gympie region is last year's state election (it was an electoral promise put forth by One Nation and the LNP), he has pitched a cutting edge solution in an effort to get Gympie Regional Council's feet moving - an underground range like those operating around Europe.
And while movement is still to be made, he has not been hesitant in pressing all political levels over why a decision is taking so long.
Not that he is new to the realm of political controversy, though; his enthusiasm and dedication to protecting the rights of law-abiding firearm owners has led to several historic blow-ups with authorities.
None of which he has ever let stop him from trying to make a difference.
#27 IVAN NAGGS
A DRIVING force in the Queensland agricultural industry, Gympie region grazier Ivan Naggs is one of the first ports of call for rural land holders in the state.
For more than a decade the Neusa Vale grazier, who runs a 142ha (350 acre) farm and breeds stud cattle, has been in an instrumental position in AgForce Queensland.
He is one of four south east Queensland elected executives for the organisation whose 5900 members' combined land makes up 60 per cent of private Queensland land.
Mr Naggs is the vessel these thousands of members use to dictate change in the rural industry, often fielding numerous phone calls each day from state members.
The list of policy areas covered by AgForce is extensive and encompasses local and state government - and as a member of the National Farmers' Federation, AgForce members also have a national voice and are often called in to advise on government policy.
Mr Naggs has been heavily involved in high-impact wins in the state's rural industry, including the relaxation of stamp duties on succession ownership of farms, co-ordinating the harmonisation of chemical labels and establishing cluster fencing in the wool industry.
He is currently lobbying for more funding to research the giant rat's tail grass problem.
Mr Naggs has also been prolific in his role in the Queensland Dog Offensive Group and is often the voice media approach for comment in the ongoing debate to control the wild dog problem.
Mr Naggs was previously the northern Australia regional manager for global agriculture leader Bayer.
#26 SHANE HANDY
SHANE Handy has been the driving force behind the Rainbow Beach Surf Lifesaving Club for more than a decade.
"If lifesaving wasn't there, Rainbow wouldn't be open,” he says.
With that, Mr Handy has been trying to grow the numbers of the club which currently has about 85 active senior members and 70 nippers.
As an inaugural nipper in the 1980s, Mr Handy was club captain for about eight years and today is the president.
He almost single-handedly pushed for the recent upgrade to the club building which has put Rainbow Beach on par with clubs on the Sunshine Coast and helped boost membership.
Mr Handy's influence extends beyond Rainbow Beach, though.
He is the Sunshine Coast branch district supervisor, which incorporates Rainbow Beach, Noosa (which has 1817 members), Sunshine Beach (which has 564 members), Coolum Beach (which has 775 members) and Marcoola (which has 413 members).
As district supervisor, he ensures compliance at clubs and inspects the quality of service for all volunteer lifesaving patrols.
It was through his role as supervisor, seeing the facilities at the Sunshine Coast and Noosa lifesaving clubs, that he pushed for the upgrade at Rainbow.
It is not just in lifesaving that Mr Handy carries a leadership role; he has been Handy Hire's branch manager for about six years.
Despite sharing the same last name, Mr Handy does not own the business.
He leads the eight-person team of the Gympie branch of the business.
Handy Hire has a diversity of machines from lawn mowers to 30-tonne rollers which have been used on the 2016 stage of the Cooroy to Curra Bruce Highway Bypass.
It is through his various roles that Mr Handy earns his place on the list of the Gympie region's 30 most influential people.
#25 DARREN BURNS
DARREN Burns is not only the face of Gympie rugby league, he is its driving force.
After a career in the national rugby league that saw him play for the Brisbane Broncos, South Sydney Rabbitohs, Western Suburbs Magpies and the Sydney Roosters, Darren has provided a stable platform of motivation and inspiration to Gympie's aspiring rugby league players in a time where the game, at a regional level is struggling.
He has mandated the consistent presence of rugby league at a school level, which has seen a resurgence of young players in the local junior ranks.
As rugby league grows to feature the anticipated women's competition, Burns has been leading the charge to expand the game in Gympie to include a women's team. A women's game was added to the Devils 20th anniversary celebrations and old boys day at Albert Park in mid-September.
But Darren's influence and mentoring has gone beyond the playing field.
He has worked in conjunction with the Brisbane Broncos to provide education to Gympie region students in everything from domestic violence to healthy eating.
He continues to provide front line leadership as president of the Gympie Devils Rugby League Football Club, stepping up to the plate after the resignation of Gympie rugby league stalwart Jim Bougoure.
It has been Burns' intricate knowledge of league administration that has helped keep the game alive and thriving in a region with a proud rugby league heritage.
It is through his dedication and influence in local sport that Darren Burns has earned a place in Gympie's list of most influential people.
#24 ANDREW 'AUSSIE' CORBET
LEADER of the Corbet's Group, Andrew "Aussie” Corbet is instrumental in not only driving major growth and industry in the Gympie region, but carrying Gympie's name across Australia.
As general manager of the enormous Gympie enterprise, Mr Corbet has jumped up from 29th place on Gympie's Power 30 list last year to 24 this year.
He is responsible for a 40-year-old sawmill and engineering business that has evolved into one of the largest Australian multi-industry companies; now operating in transport, land clearing, water processing, storage, equipment hire and landscape supplies.
The company provides 300 jobs in the Gympie region, including FIFO workers to major mining sites.
The transport section of the Corbet's Group, made up of a fleet of 120 trucks running from Melbourne to North Queensland, recently added a 30m A-double road train to their fleet.
It was the first of its kind to run the Bruce Highway, and Mr Corbet's push for approval with the state and federal government over a two-year period before he piloted the first truck in June, has opened the door for the Queensland transport industry.
Two more are on order for the company, while other transport companies are already following suit. The growing innovation will change the face of Queensland trucking, as larger haulage capabilities cuts the number of trucks on the road.
Heat has surrounded one of the company's latest expansions, following approval of a controversial quarry and concrete batching plant near the Mary Valley Link Road that will generate up to 50 Gympie region jobs.
While the latest project - a controversial quarry and concrete plant expansion - has been green-lit that will generate new jobs in the region, it is being appealed in the planning and environment court.
Crucial Corbet's Group sponsorship is responsible for the livelihood of Gympie's A-Grade rugby league team, the Gympie Devils.
An avid motor sport fan, Mr Corbet almost single handedly saved the Mother Mountain Speedway after injecting a significant amount of time and sponsorship into the sport.
#23 KERRI EATON
ROCKETING straight on to the Power 30 and into the number #23 position is singing and music teacher Kerri Eaton.
Kerri's influence in the arts is undeniable as a guest lecturer for the University of Queensland, secretary of the Australian Instititute of Country Music and artistic director for the Little Kids Day Out.
She will also have a hand in running the Gympie Rush Festival this year as well as mentoring her many students in all styles of singing.
This year, she has also been nominated for an ARIA award in regional teaching because of the influence she has among emerging and established artists such as The Dennis Sisters, Sista Lee, Ethan Roberts/Aspy Jones and folk singer Darren Hanlon, who is currently in America recording and touring.
Kerri's experience is impressive, having studied and performed opera in London and the UK, America and Scandinavia.
While she prefers time out of the spotlight these days, she said her life here in Gympie is no less busy than that of her life as an opera singer, nor less important.
"I knew I could be useful here, helping my kids realise their dreams. I've made a few contacts over the years and I like to make the most of what I've learnt and use it to help as many people as I can,” she said.
Her ultimate aim is to raise the profile of the arts among the Gympie population.
"My drive is to bring to Gympie artists and musicians and get them to move here. It would see the whole town come to life,” she said.
#22 COS SCHUH
SCHUH Group has been part of Gympie's financial landscape for a long time.
And it was almost a decade ago that it added financial planning and wealth advice to its portfolio of services, also including business valuations and strategy.
The firm's principal, Cos Schuh, has a deep involvement with the community, and not only the business community.
Mr Schuh, #17 in our Power 30 list of Gympie region movers and shakers last year (the people who make things happen in our part of the world) is on the list again and comes in at #22.
In addition to the operation of a "One Stop” accounting, financial planning and finance broking model, the Schuh Group is involved in managing an extensive commercial property portfolio for properties spanning New South Wales, Queensland and the Northern Territory.
Mr Schuh also sits on the Sunshine Coast Health and Hospital Board which has responsibility for hospitals at Gympie, Nambour, Maleny, Caloundra and Kawana.
Having lived with his family in Gympie for more than 40 years, he says his firm has deep ties with the Gympie community and an affection for the people and way of life here.
Reflecting his commitment to local businesses in the community, Mr Schuh and the Schuh Group have been a major force for charity fundraising in the region.
This year the Group was the major sponsor for the Wishlist Jazz and Wine Festival, which saw a desperately-needed $31,000 raised to provide medical equipment for the Gympie Hospital and facilities for Gympie people.
"As a family we have been privileged to do business in Gympie for over 40 years. We are very fortunate to have enjoyed the support of our local community and value very highly the trust placed in us by local people.”
#21 SHARLENE MAKIN
SHARLENE Makin is passionate about driver education and knows first-hand that it can help save lives.
If it wasn't for the training she acquired through the Roadcraft Driver Education program she now runs, there is every chance she and then teenage daughter may have been seriously injured or killed, when a landcruiser she was driving fishtailed on a wet road several years ago.
Now CEO of Gympie's Roadcraft Driver Education, Mrs Makin said she's impressed with how far her team have come.
"Roadcraft was in a dire financial position when I was first appointed. After my initial analysis of the organisation and the education it provided, I knew it had to be saved," she said.
"The courses were outstanding, but the business model wasn't working. I knew we had to secure some major government or corporate work to keep the organisation viable and continue to offer our potentially life-saving courses."
Roadcraft has played a pivotal role in the Gympie region.
"I think many locals underestimate Roadcraft's significance. It is indeed the envy of other regions. The courses we run are potentially life-saving (I say "potentially" because we do not as yet have tangible evidence," she said.
"Locals are so fortunate that we have this type of education right here on our doorstep.
"Parents who do not have ready access to Roadcraft are either choosing to send their kids from many kilometres away and even interstate, or relying on luck alone when it comes to keeping their young drivers safe on the roads, which is an injustice I think."
Mrs Makin said Roadcraft is beneficial to the region because it creates significant injection into the local economy.
"The constant challenge is in seeking government recognition that the Roadcraft model really is best practice and really does create safer, more aware and more attentive drivers," she said.
"We do a lot of work in the political arena around road safety and just keep chipping away at this.
"I am lucky to have the support of an amazing team at Roadcraft who have fully embraced, and appreciate, the professional culture."
Mrs Makin is also the secretary and treasurer of the Gympie Chamber of Commerce.
She believes it's important to help businesses grow.
"I have had over 30 years' experience in small to medium business, and really embrace the concept of making small changes to create big improvements," she said.
"I am happy to help anyone succeed in business because good business is good for everyone, especially in regional areas."
#20 JASON MCPHERSON
SOME people know Jason "Macca” McPherson as the charismatic, energetic and enthusiastic boss of Gympie engineering company CPM Engineering.
In sporting circles, he is the man who almost single-handedly resurrected the Gympie Hammers Rugby Union Club from extinction in 2016.
The head coach of the Hammers reserve side, he was also the driving force behind growing the club to feature an under-16/17s boys squad.
In 2010, there were 20 players in school rugby, this year there were 303 participants who played more than seven games.
It is not just rugby union "Macca” is involved with; he has sponsored trophies and jerseys for junior rugby league's most passionate players for each age group from under-13s to 16s.
"I was never a great player as a child, but it was my passion which kept me going,” he said.
Professionally, CPM Engineering is an industry leader and one of the most respected local firms.
Like "Macca”, the business's values are firmly aligned with growing opportunities within the Gympie region.
CPM's delivery of the ground-breaking water processing machine Ali-Jak, is testament to this.
The Ali-Jak was invented by "Macca”, and is a water treatment machine which converts liquid waste into reusable water.
It will be utilised commercially next year, and CPM will fabricate the Ali-Jak in Gympie, creating employment and helping drive the economy.
The Rattler has been a topic of discussion, and "Macca” said it has been a good project for CPM.
"It combines old fashioned tradesmen skills mixed with new technology. There has been an average of about five staff working on the project,” he said.
A CPM apprentice was rewarded with full time employment through the Rattler project. It also gave a mature tradesman the opportunity of full-time employment.
Some could argue money is influence, and in some cases, they would be right.
Others could argue sports stars hold greater influence than, say, artists and charity workers.
Both could be right, or wrong, because that's the subjectiveness of power.
Let's start a conversation.
Email your thoughts to email@example.com or leave your comment online at gympietimes.com.au.
#19 SCOTT KOVACEVIC
FEW terriers could match The Gympie Times reporter Scott Kovacevic for tenacity in journalism, especially if he smells a rat or hears the scampering sound of documents being unjustifiably hidden from the public.
His sometimes darkly satirical sense of humour is a trademark of his opinion pieces, as determination is to his research and reporting.
As with all of us, he is a product of nature and nurture.
Determination is in his nature and his practical research skills probably owe much to the training he received in the course of obtaining three university degrees - A Bachelor of Arts in Theatre, First Class Honours in Theatre, specifically comedy. And a Masters in Journalism and Communication.
All those qualifications are from the Griffith University Gold Coast campus.
Born in Armidale, he has lived in Hervey Bay and Taree and spent 14 years at the Gold Coast.
He worked as an entertainer at Dreamworld and occasionally as a stand-up comedian and as a technician, managing the theatre at Griffith University.
As a piece of advice for politicians and other community leaders, he says it's easier to convince people of your argument if you have one and if you communicate it to people, talking, consulting, keeping people informed - general accountability.
"The nature of people is you can probably convince them if your argument is strong.
"The more information the better.
"If people feel they are part of the process, they are more likely to accept a decision, even if they disagree with some aspects of it.”
Scott comes in at #19 on the Power 30 list, entering the mover and shaker charts for the first time this year.
#18 BEN RICHES
WORKING together is all part of the deal for online marketing expert and Gympie Chamber of Commerce president Ben Riches.
Mr Riches is also principal of his firm, Enriches Business and is coming into his third year as chamber president, working with other Gympie business people to help them optimise their online presence.
"There's a lot of aspects to it - the words you use are just part of it.
"I've been four years doing that, three of them in Gympie since I moved here.”
How does he combine running a business with keeping a diverse organisation like the chamber functioning for the benefit of members, with regular functions and relevant speakers?
"It's not easy,” he admits. It's a lot of hours.”
One of those important events is Ignite Business, a project he is running for the first time this year.
"It's a one-day event with four nationally recognised speakers from all over Australia, imparting their knowledge at workshops.
"And the chamber puts on monthly events with engaging and relevant speakers.
"I got involved in the chamber firstly because the board came to me, hoping for a new website.
"I started volunteering my time after setting it up, helping run it.
"Then I thought , 'I'm already volunteering my time. I may as well volunteer a bit more.
"Also, when I can I have enjoyed mentoring students.
"I've helped do that at James Nash and Gympie high schools, including working for disengaged students.
"Basically I help them look at options, including not just getting a job, but potentially creating one by getting into business.
"For two years I've also been working on the idea of a co-working space, a hub where people in business can have an office where they share with others in an office environment, instead of having to rent the whole space themselves.
"On the Sunshine Coast there are about eight of them.
"One just opened at TAFE in Gympie, set up in co-operation with other business owners and Gympie Regional Council.
"We call it the Fish Tank, which is partly a take-off of the Shark Tank television show.
"I didn't set it up, but I'm grateful they used the name I suggested.
"I thought it was a really cool name for an environment where people get together and work.
"We're all in the boat, working together and looking out,” he said.
#17 MARLENE OWEN
"YOU don't want to do a story about me,” the unstoppable Marlene Owen said when asked about the work she does in the community, helping hundreds of people dealing with cancer, homelessness and drought.
The bookwork and administration associated with the family business, Gympie Bearings, would be enough for most.
But there are 24 busy hours in any of Mrs Owen's days.
The 2017 Gympie region Citizen of the Year, returns to the Power 30 list at number 17 this year, rising up the chart from Number 23 last year.
Working around the clock to provide assistance to families battling the horrors of cancer is a job she says is only possible because of the team she works with at Supporting Chemotherapy in Cooloola.
"I've been raising money for that for 12 years.
"It's a community of us, not just one person, not just me,” she said.
"For change to happen, it takes all of us to do something, this was never something I could do on my own.”
"Every two years we have the Gala Ball to raise money for SCIC and we fund-raise at the Melbourne Cup every year.
"I look after lots of people I suppose.”
Mrs Owen has been volunteering for decades, starting with the Red Cross when she was 25.
But there always seems to be room for one more worthy cause in her life. Wherever people are in need people like Mrs Owen lead the helping effort.
More recently, she has branched out and has been helping her fellow Citizen of the Year, Tony Stewart with his Drought Runners and Bush to Beach campaigns to take food and hope to the drought-stricken west and to give the children of drought some respite, with holidays at Rainbow Beach.
And she has stepped in to help real community efforts for the homeless.
"Tonight I'm getting a big stew organised,” she said.
On Monday, Wednesday and Friday, she makes dessert as well.
"And if I'm in town, I do this every night, at the Six Mile rest area and Nelson Reserve.”
She says the generally good behaviour of homeless people in Gympie makes it easier to help.
"A big shed is all it would take to provide proper shelter, along with normal policing,” she said.
"I like to help the genuine people, and there are many.
"I feed between 20 and 30 people some nights,” she said.
"I've just been to Cooloola Fitness Centre in Chapple Lane. They're putting out a container so people can make donations.
"Recently I was in Rainbow Beach, helping Tony Stewart with Bush to Beach and Drought Runners.”
She is also keen to work with people helping the wildfire victims of the Woolooga district.
In what would otherwise be her spare time, she does all that bookwork for the business. "It's 43 years we've owned that,” she said.
#16 STACEY LOWE
STACEY Lowe has moved up the Power 30 List this year from #24 to #16.
The co-owner and manager of the Royal Hotel is passionate about not only her family and business but about the Gympie community as a whole and works hard to make weekends out in Gympie as safe as possible for young people.
Her involvement with the Liquor Industry Accord Group (LIAG) has this principle at its core.
LIAG is a network of hotels and nightspots that work together to ban known troublemakers and to put in place procedures that will help to kerb alcohol-fuelled violence and anti-social behaviours among patrons.
"Times are tough for business everywhere but when alcohol is involved, and people drinking, they need to have boundaries drawn and know what's acceptable behaviour and what's not,” she said.
She is also a passionate advocate for Mary St and a member of the Mary St Stakeholders Committee.
She and a number of traders stepped up this year to host the Pre-Muster Party.
"This year it wasn't clear who would organise the Pre-Muster Party and council and the Muster committee had their plates full.
"Many traders, including myself, wanted to see it continue this year.
"After consulting with the mayor and council representatives, they were happy for the traders to put it on this year.
"Next year, with more future planning, it'll be bigger and better than ever,” she said.
When she's not growing her business or working for LIAG or the Stakeholders Committee, Ms Lowe is managing fiance Linc Phelps' music career or being a mum to her son Jack who has autism or running after four-year-old live wire daughter Lyric.
Ms Lowe, who is due to get married next Saturday, would like to see more done to keep young people in Gympie.
"We need to make it attractive for young people to stay and a vibrant place for young families. We need the kids to not turn 18 and want to leave,” she said.
# 15 SUE MANTON
ALTHOUGH preferring to be out of the spotlight, Little Haven Palliative Care business manager Sue Manton's power lies in her ability to inspire and motivate those around her.
She moved up the Power 30 list this year from #20 to #15.
Sue attributes a great deal of the success of Little Haven not to herself, but to her team of hard working staff and volunteers.
However, as the public face of the organisation, her influence is undeniable.
Sue has been a constant champion for the community care model that Little Haven adopts for all of its clients and it is a method recognised by Queensland Health and independent assessors as the very best care model in community care anywhere.
Again, Sue would attribute this to her staff and volunteers, but she is the glue that holds the machine together.
Her role is very much to make it sustainable, something she has done for the past 17 years but she tends to downplay her involvement.
"There's a magic about Little Haven. Things tend to fall into place. I think it's because of the good we do in the community,” she said.
Sadly, that good is not recognised through the level of funding the organisation receives and this is a constant frustration.
She works tirelessly with her team to apply for funding and grants and to fundraise the hundreds of thousands of dollars in short-fall needed between the amount of funding received and that required to run such a valuable community service.
Sue says she doesn't work any harder than anyone else in the organisation and said she is often amazed at what her team is able to do.
"There's a degree of respect there for everyone pitching in. We give a lot but we get a lot out of it - support, skills, friendship. What we can achieve amazes me,” she said.
#14 STEPHEN DONNELLY
GYMPIE'S top cop Inspector Stephen Donnelly has a huge weight to carry in the region.
He grew up in Hervey Bay and then went to Rockhampton as an Ambulance paramedic before joining the Queensland Police Service.
Insp Donnelly has been a senior officer in Gympie since 2015 and said it has been quite enjoyable.
"I am very fortunate to lead a group of dedicated officers who care about their community and do their utmost to keep it safe," he said.
"The working relationship between the police, other agencies and the community is positive and has purpose.
"The joint response effort to the recent Woolooga bushfire demonstrates we are a community that rises to a challenge and we rise together."
Ins Donnelly has been a police officer for the past 35 years where he worked in various roles around the State.
"I have been active in every community I have lived and worked in through playing, coaching and managing sport; helping charity groups like camp quality; or patrolling as a life saver and as a Coast Guard member."
Ins Donnelly is an influential member of the Gympie community, but to himself, he said making an impact on people's lives is what matters most.
"I measure my career and life achievements by the other lives I have shaped for the better," he said.
"No one should underestimate the influence they have on others. Your behaviour, rather than your words is what others follow."
#13 TOM GRADY
PROMINENT Gympie businessman Tom Grady was born in Pomona in 1945 and went to school at Wahpunga, now known as Kin Kin State School.
Upon completing primary school, he went to Christian Brothers in Gympie and graduated in 1961.
He joined Elders Livestock in February 1962 and stayed with the company for almost four years before signing up to national service in 1965.
Mr Grady did some service in Vietnam before coming back to Australia to rejoin Elders Livestock.
He was in charge of managing the country branches in Texas on the Queensland-NSW border.
A few years later, a bad cattle slump in 1976 led to the closure of the branch.
This led to Mr Grady establishing his own real estate, Tom Grady Real Estate in Mary St.
"We went out by ourselves selling properties and conducting machinery auctions,” he said.
Mr Grady and his wife Lyn have helped sponsor the Gympie Show for the past 12 years.
He's also helping the Woolooga farmers devastated by the blaze last week by supplying hay to those affected.
In 40 years of business, Mr Grady said he doesn't see himself as influential, but merely giving back to those who have supported him.
#12 CHRIS CALLAGHAN
GYMPIE magistrate Chris Callaghan holds the power when it comes to sitting in judgement on wrong doers in the region.
But even he disagrees with the term "mandatory sentencing”.
As president of the Magistrates Association, he says a lot of his colleagues, in particular female colleagues, have been unfairly castigated by the media, with "a populist view that magistrates are soft, but we're not”.
"I and my colleagues send people to jail regularly when the situation requires it, but at the end of the day, our job is to protect the community.
"And sometimes the community is better off if a person doesn't go to jail.
"For instance if they've got a job, they're doing well and you can tell they're stable and making progress and contributing to the community.
"Do I want to send them to jail, pull them out of the job and then ultimately return them to society, desperate for money, idle and depressed?
"You can lock someone up and that works to protect the community as long as they're in jail. What happens when they're released? Yes some may be deterred from committing that crime in the future but in my experience a great many criminals don't consider the consequences.
Mandatory sentencing is part of what he calls a "tough on crime auction” that over-simplifies the issues. "You can't have 'one size fits all',” he says.
Some penalties, including jail and even mandatory loss of a driver's licence, can have devastating consequences.
"It's different in Brisbane and the Gold Coast, where people can take public transport. But how is a farm worker going to get to work without a licence?
"Someone moves house, doesn't get their mail and misses a payment on their SPER account, they can lose their licence.” And in the regions, he says that often means they lose their jobs, hurting the whole community.
To keep that up and to deliver justice fairly and efficiently, it is important the courts have a working relationship with the police, especially with prosecution officers, to keep cases flowing through.
"But that's where the relationship must end. We get a lot of work done and get a lot of co-operation from prosecutors, as we also do from the duty lawyers who also do an excellent job for their clients in the limited time they have with them.”
Mr Callaghan came from private practice as a criminal defence lawyer, defending some serious criminals.
He was admitted in 1980 to practice as a solicitor on the Sunshine Coast.
He went to the Bar in Brisbane in 1991 until 1995 and was a solicitor/advocate primarily in the criminal courts until his appointment as a Magistrate in 2007.
In addition to sitting on the Gympie courtroom bench, Mr Callaghan is in charge of keeping the wheels of the law turning over a huge regional area.
In fact, he runs the show when it comes to justice from Hervey Bay and Maryborough to Caloundra and west to Kingaroy, administering a system that handles 3500 matters a year, or about 70 cases a week.
#11 ANTHONY LANSKEY
ONE of the biggest movers on the 2018 Power 30 list, Anthony Lanskey has cemented his spot as one of the most important figures for education in the Gympie region in his fourth year as principal at Gympie State High School.
Climbing 10 spots to sit on the precipice of the list's Top 10, Mr Lanskey's passion for nurturing the region's up-and-coming talent at GSHS helped them win the 2018 TAFE Queensland Educator of the Year at the Gympie Chamber of Commerce business awards earlier this month.
Prioritising the "achievements and success of our kids” above all else in his role, Mr Lanskey said his primary goal as principal was to make sure the school continues working cohesively toward getting Gympie's youth ready for life as valued contributors to the community.
He pointed to Gympie High's impressive results in Education Queensland's "Next Step” figures earlier this year as another positive indicator of the school's trajectory, with less than eight per cent of former students measured to be looking for employment six months on from finishing at the school.
He has also maintained his position within the Gympie State Schools Administration alliance, playing an active role alongside his peers in identifying and planning to combat issues on a local educational level.
A long held love for rugby league has seen Mr Lanskey uphold various roles within the sport outside school hours, including a presidential role with Australian Secondary Schools Rugby League.
Now in his second year as president of Australian Secondary Schools Rugby League, he will join the national squad when they head off to the UK for an international tour at the end of this year.
Formerly the treasurer with the Schoolboys, Mr Lanskey has spent at least 10 years in executive roles within the state and national rugby league setup.
Juggling those roles with additional responsibilities as Chairman of the Wide Bay School Sports Board and independent director of the Queensland Rugby League Central Division, Mr Lanskey's exhaustive efforts to create learning pathways and sporting opportunities for Gympie kids cannot be questioned.
He said Gympie High's recent consultation with the public to develop a four-year strategic plan for successful students, quality staff and an engaged community within the school headlined an exciting future for education around the region.
# 10 CINDY VOGELS
SMASHING her way onto the Power 30 List and straight into the #10 spot is the Devoted Milliner, Cindy Vogels.
The dynamic single mum of four hit the headlines when one of her unique hat designs was picked up by THE fashionista of the 21st century, Lady Gaga.
Cindy's love affair was inspired by her mum, Carol, who was a noted seamstress in Nambour who won a number of big contracts for her unique costumes, bridal wear, sports uniforms and more.
Her business, The Devoted Milliner, has evolved into Racy and Lucky, a designer clothing label that tailors exclusively to emerging female artists in the music industry.
And it has proven to be great exposure with Cindy's designs featured in no fewer than 17 nationally and internationally published magazines.
Her latest project, Collab A Nation, came from a public performance idea inspired by Gympie businessman Tony Goodman.
It shines a spotlight on all the behind-the-scenes creatives and turns their work into a performance piece of art.
Collab A Nation has been embraced by the artistic community, especially on the Sunshine Coast and Brisbane, with a precursor to the format used to help open the Brisbane Art Prize in 2016 at the Judith Wright Centre and Collab A Nation opening the Australian Wearable Art Festival at Eumundi in August recently.
At Eumundi, Cindy was a featured designer, along with Peter Dwyer of the Whitehorse Institute of Design.
There are plans to take Collab A Nation (featuring almost all Gympie creatives) on the road and turn it into a reality TV Show with a producer, digital producer and other executives already signed on.
Cindy says that in everything she does, her family are always behind her with her parents providing her a creative space and room for a distribution centre at their home and her children her inspiration.
"We all only have one shot at this and I want to show my children that when it gets tough, you have to give it everything you have.”
#9 MADILL FAMILY
AN ICONIC Gympie family with as much passion for their community as their motoring business, the Madills land inside the top 10 of the 2018 Power 30 list for a second straight year.
Brothers Tom and Alex Madill founded the company in 1935, before Tom's sons Garth and John began building on their father's legacy in 1966 when Garth joined the Madill Motor Group as a trainee, before John came on board in 1975.
Three generations of the family have worked with passion and tireless dedication to create one of Gympie's biggest business empires, with John's son Adam and Garth's son John Scott now playing significant roles in the continued success of the Madill brand.
What began as two dealerships in '75 grew to become seven today, with Holden, HSV, Toyota, Isuzu Trucks, Mazda, Honda and Suzuki all brands sold under the Madill name.
Their Isuzu Trucks brand at Forest Glen supplies vehicles to the entire Sunshine Coast.
Last year the family became owners and operators of RACQ Roadside Assistance services through Caloundra to Noosa and insurance officers from Maroochydore to Noosa.
Maintaining around 60 employees in the Gold City and a further 60 at Madill dealerships in Noosa and Forest Glen, the Motor Group family uphold teamwork above all other factors in their formula for sustained success.
They also own the Gold Nugget Service Station at the entrance to town, and credit their loyal employees and managers across all of their business ventures for playing a role in their longevity.
An ever-present name in various Gympie- based causes, annual events and organisations, the Madills have kept their strong belief in giving back to the community they have worked so hard in.
The Madill Motor Group continue to serves as prominent sponsor of Gympie Turf Club, with tickets available for a winner's choice giveaway car available at every race day on the calendar.
The lucky winner has the choice of a Suzuki Swift, a Mazda 2, a Toyota Yaris or a Holden Barina.
Earlier this year, Madill Mazda sponsored the People's Choice category at the 2018 Gympie Chamber of Commerce Business Awards, which was won by Victory College.
John Madill Toyota continues to sponsor Roadcraft, an initiative the family have been involved with since Tom served in an executive role during the Driver Education program's formative days.
Garth is heavily invested in the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia committee, and the PCFA is a major beneficiary of the Madill Motor Group.
John and Garth are both recipients of the Paul Harris fellowship in the Rotary Club of Gympie and Cooloola, and John is the president of the Salvation Army Noosa Region Red Shield Appeal fundraiser.
Adam serves as chair of the Gympie Salvation Army Red Shield Appeal, and represents the Madill Motor Group as a member of the Chamber of Commerce.
The Gympie Vets Golf group, Little Haven Palliative Care, the Tin Can Bay Coast Guard and the Rattler Railway Company feature as just some of the regional community groups the Madills remain affiliated with.
#8 NOLAN FAMILY
A NAME synonymous with the history of Gympie and its business sector, the Nolan family retains its spot inside the top 10 of the 2018 Power 30 due to its continued expansions - and its status as one of the region's biggest employers.
Now more than 70 years on from patriarch Pat Nolan's first foray into the Gympie meat trade as an apprentice in an Apollonian Vale butcher shop in 1945, Nolan Meats continues to go from strength to strength as one of the best producers, distributors and exporters of quality meat products around the globe while maintaining its headquarters in the heart of the region.
Pat and Marie Nolan's three sons, Terry, Tony and Michael, have honoured the spirit of what started as a small family butcher shop in 1958, spearheading and shaping its transition into a global empire.
With more than 400 staff on the books, the Nolans are well known as one of the largest local employers in the region, while their products are sampled in 30 countries including Japan, Korea, United States, Malaysia and Indonesia.
They are steadfast in their support of local farmers, giving them access to overseas markets by buying local cattle, and their 'Private Selection' signature brand of beef has been branded through Woolworths and featured on the Breakfast Creek Hotel menu.
The company's year so far has been highlighted by securing a major $9.95million expansion to be rolled out at the East Deep Creek facility during the next five years.
The expansion, which included $4.97million in Federal Government funding, is expected to create 200 jobs and 45 more during construction.
Tony said the expansion would occur all over the plant and will allow the company to double its production from 550 to 1100 cattle a day in future.
Terry added the expansion projects would also enhance the plant's infrastructure and design.
Another recent big-scale addition at their East Deep Creek facility saw their Dematic automated storage and retrieval system, which forms part of their muti-million dollar cold distribution facility, become the biggest in the southern hemisphere.
Ever present in the community they love, all three Nolan brothers have received Paul Harris fellowships in the Rotary Club of Gympie and Cooloola.
Tony has served as chairman of the Gympie Music Muster and the family remains involved in the local Apex Club.
The Nolans continue to sponsor the Muster Cup, which is the biggest race day on the Gympie Turf Club's calendar, along with long-term sponsorships of the Gympie Show Society and "fairly well established work programs to introduce young people into the workforce”.
Terry said there were about 45 Gympie students working at Nolans after school hours to establish themselves with potential career options.
The family lost its matriarch with the passing of Marie earlier this month, and held a celebration of her life at St Patrick's church to commemorate her passion and dedication to the family business and the Gympie community.
The promise of additional expansions on the local and international scale ensures the iconic Nolan family will honour Marie's legacy and remain a Gympie powerhouse for years to come.
#7 SHELLEY STRACHAN
GYMPIE Times editor Shelley Strachan has jumped up the list this year from #10 to #7.
It has been a big year for the Gympie region's primary source of daily local news and the mother of four at its helm.
The first big win came in April when the Federal Government acquiesced to a concerted, strategic campaign from The Gympie Times, Wide Bay MP Llew O'Brien and the community at large to fast track construction of the $1 billion Gympie Bypass, which will take the Bruce Hwy around Gympie to the east, instead of through the heart of it.
The massive 26km project will start after Christmas instead of in five years time, a move that is estimated to save at least 50 lives and boost the local economy, and increase investment in multiple ways.
In August, The Gympie Times beat out The Gold Coast Bulletin and Townsville Bulletin to win the News Corp Australia 2018 Achievements in Regional Journalism Award, Ms Strachan flying to Sydney to accept the gong at a dinner attended by Lachlan and Rupert Murdoch.
This was topped off earlier this month with another award ceremony in Sydney where The Gympie Times beat six other finalists from throughout Australia, the Pacific and New Zealand to win News Media Community News Brand of the Year for the second year in a row, and the fourth time in the last five years.
Ms Strachan grew up in the Gympie region and took over the reins of The Gympie Times three years ago.
She is a loud and passionate advocate for the region and a respected daily editor in the News Corp stable, which includes 16 regional daily mastheads, and multiple online and print news sources across Australia and the world.
In 2017 she travelled to Canberra as part of the national push for media law reform from regional newspapers like The Gympie Times.
The Gympie Times printed edition is read by more than 32,000 people each week, and has a weekly online audience of about 40,000, and a Facebook following of more than 20,000.
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#6 JULIE WILLIAMS
SURGING 10 spots up the list to sit just outside the top five, Julie Williams has pressed on as a pioneer for positive agricultural change at a regional and national level as the CEO of AgSolutions Australia.
Ahead of the family business's 30th birthday next year, Ms Williams has continued furthering the tireless efforts of her parents, the company founders Trevor and Wendy Zerner, in the past 12 months by adding 12 new employees to the growing AgSolutions family.
Now boasting more than 50 staff, AgSolutions' family-oriented leadership team also includes Ms Williams' husband Andrew as COO, brother Jason Zerner as production manager and cousin Gary Zerner as sales manager to make a unit dedicated to maintaining its status as one of the country's leading animal and soil supplement companies.
Ms Williams received further recognition for her impressive resume with inclusion as one of just eight industry representatives from all over Queensland on the advisory board of the State Government's Manufacturing Ministerial Committee, chaired by MP Cameron Dick where she plays an integral role in ensuring continued growth and global competitiveness in the manufacturing sector.
The prospect of helping staff members capitalise on opportunities to grow in their roles, face challenges and tackle exciting tasks are "what gets her out of bed every morning”, and she pointed to AgSolutions' "really high” retention rate as evidence of mutual satisfaction within the company.
The AgSolutions "helping Australia grow” mantra was further extended internally by Ms Williams' partnership with Enna.com president and international business coach Collin McLoughlin, who visited the AgSolutions Gympie site for three months earlier this year.
AgSolutions have been working with Mr McLoughlin and fellow Enna corporation director Jun Nakamuro for the past nine years.
Keeping Ms Williams busy outside AgSolutions is her role as Cooloola Christian College board chair and further board roles at Hope Reins and, more recently, the Gympie Chamber of Commerce.
Through her work with fellow Chamber of Commerce members and president Ben Riches, Ms Williams added Gympie to the list of destinations for the upcoming Ignite Business Conference on October 13, which will feature "nationally and globally recognised keynote speakers”.
Further prospects of expansion at AgSolutions ensures Ms Williams' role as a key influencer around Gympie will continue well into the future.
#5 BOB FREDMAN
IN THE same way you can't take the country out of the boy, it seems you can't take the council and community service out of Bob Fredman.
Described as the "last of his kind” by Gympie historian DrElaine Brown, the Gympie councillor's connection with councils reaches right back to work experience at Widgee in 1974.
He was employed there in 1977 and from that he worked his way all the way up to head of engineering before retiring after 40 years.
In among this, he juggled a love for heritage and history through his role with the National Trust, which included a run as chairman of the group.
Some would be content to call that a career, but Cr Fredman took it as an opportunity to continue making a difference in the region and stood for the seat of Division 8 when it was vacated by James Cochrane early this year.
In doing so, he proved he had not worn out his welcome and took the seat in a landslide - proof that rampant publicity is not always needed to be influential.
In the four months since he took the seat, he has queried a number of council decisions and the impact they'll have on the region's ratepayers, including the proposed $3million upper Mary St upgrade, this year's rate rise, and the decision to bring in new rules that lock out councillors from some developer meetings.
His arrival on the council has also reignited the passion of those in the region who question the path the current council is walking.
His passion for the region does not stop politically, either.
Until recently he was a key player among the region's heritage protection and historical societies, driven by a passion for Gympie's past.
#4 JODY ALLEN
THERE is no greater success story than that of Gympie mumtrepreneur Jody Allen.
It's no surprise the self-made powerhouse is back in Gympie's top five most influential people after hitting The Courier Mail's Queensland's Most Powerful 100 People list earlier this year, at number 78, beating Jeff Horn by one place.
The dizzying heights Allen has reached come seven years after the Gympie mum found herself struggling to feed her young family on the back of a redundancy.
The Pie Creek mother of two began sharing money saving tips online and quickly built a popular platform for parents to communicate with each other 24 hours a day.
Now the Stay at Home Mum website, and associated social media and media appearance offshoots, is an empire with more than 1.5 million unique visitors to the site per month and 500,000 social media followers.
Last year Allen joined forces with Queensland rural lobby group AgForce when she became the ambassador for the Every Family Needs a Farmer campaign, appearing on ABC's Landline and billboards around the state to champion the bridging of the rural urban divide.s
In an ABC interview last year, AgForce president Grant Maudsley said Allen was chosen due her large influence.
"Her followers buy a lot food and make a lot of decisions. They walk the supermarket aisles and they make food buying decisions, and Jody's one way of [getting to them].”
He said he could not look past the incredible pull of The Stay at Home Mum website, which generates 10 new pieces of content live every day, with the daily newsletter landing in 60,000 inboxes.
Allen's numbers did not disappoint, with her first agriculture story for the lobby group gaining 48,000 likes.
To share her business success, Allen, together with husband Brendan Allen and SAHM's Nic Millard, launched digital agency Tenacious Digital to help other small businesses get a foot in the online world.
Allen has also published four books, including best-seller The $50 Weekly Shop, with book five due early next year.
And to top it all off, Allen is due to star in the Stay at Home Mum TV Show on Channel 7 in the near-future.
#3 MICK CURRAN
MICK Curran's commitment to public service has been unwavering throughout a career which stretches from the police service to Gympie Regional Council.
A member of the Queensland Police for more than 30 years - which included a Bravery Medal awarded in 2016 - Gympie's mayor has expanded that resume through his work in the council's top elected spot.
Unhappy with Gympie's reputation outside of the region, he has worked hard to reverse it and make the region one of Queensland's premier places to be.
Since taking over the office after the death of Ron Dyne in late 2015, Cr Curran has overseen a number of significant changes to the region, among them the award-winning aquatic centre and Smithfield St developments, the record-breaking G150 celebrations, and the understated but widely loved Mary River Walk.
The achievement he will best known for, though, is the return of the region's heritage Mary Valley Rattler.
While the project has been a lightning rod for controversy, Cr Curran has never wavered in his belief of the benefits the project will bring to Gympie.
Regardless of whether people share that view, there's no denying the fact the train is finally back on track, returning an iconic piece of the region's past to glory - and, if his faith proves well-placed, one which will secure the region's tourism ahead of one of the biggest changes in the region's history and long be remembered as a turning point in its growth.
#2 TONY PERRETT
NO MATTER the level of government, passion has been politician Tony Perrett's driving force.
Maintaining a focus on the impact of government on regional Queensland, MrPerrett has been a strong advocate for local issues and the farming industry.
A member of the Kingaroy Young Nationals at 19, he entered politics as part of the Kilkivan Shire Council in 2003.
He went on to become deputy mayor, a role he again held when amalgamations formed Gympie Regional Council in 2008.
While the issues remained the same, the scale of his advocacy got bigger in 2015 when he was elected to Gympie's State seat.
Part of the Infrastructure Planning and Natural Resources Committee and as Deputy Opposition Whip, MrPerrett made waves last year when he crossed the floor and voted against his own party's position to support a reclassification of lever-action shotguns.
Mr Perrett said the decision was "a matter of integrity”.
"I am not afraid to stand solid in my support for the little person who is not being heard and for government to treat them with respect,” he said at the time.
Going against the grain has not been a bad decision, either.
After his re-election in 2017, MrPerrett was named as the LNP Opposition's shadow minister for agricultural industry development and fisheries and forestry.
But he has not lost sight of some of the questions burning his own backyard.
He has maintained a desire for accountability on the controversial restoration of the Mary Valley Rattler, calling for a State Government audit into the multi-million-dollar blowout on the project and crossing swords with Mayor Mick Curran over how the project unfolded.
All in all, he has made it abundantly clear that when it comes to securing the future for the region's taxpayers and ratepayers, he "will not be intimidated”.
#1 LLEW O'BRIEN
BEING named a political "maverick” or "troublemaker” by party members might make some politicians worry, but for Llew O'Brien it is a recipe that has driven him to success.
And while this is the second-year running that the Wide Bay MP has been named the region's most powerful person, he was not blind to the other side of the coin.
"The only place from here to go is down,” he said.
While technically true, he seems intent on bucking the trend, having taken his election to the Power 30's top spot last year and run with it.
Since last year's list was released, Mr O'Brien has secured funding for the long-awaited Gympie Bypass, been a key player in delivering a royal commission into the banking industry, helped to deliver major funding to local businesses like Nolan Meats, and was a central figure in the LNP's imploding National Energy Guarantee, a tipping piece in the latest game of Australian Prime Minister dominoes.
But it was not always the big fish he was happiest to catch.
"Very, very important to me is the establishment of the local head space for young people,” he said.
The $5 million funding for Nolan Meats was another, given the impact that money will have on the region's job market.
And the fact he was in the top spot was not lost on him.
"It is nice when you're recognised for something.
"In public life so often the promotion of you is not all that good.
"It's a huge honour. We've had some big wins delivering for Gympie,” he said.
He has bent some pretty big ears in his efforts to deliver, too.
No more than two weeks after Michael McCormack was named Deputy Prime Minister, Mr O'Brien had the National Part Leader in the region to view for himself why fast-tracking Section D was so important.
And while the big achievements were the headline grabbers, his passion to improve the region extend much further.
His experiences as a former policeman were central in powering Mr O'Brien's passion for the region.
From roads to mental health or domestic violence, he has witnessed the social issues that tear at the fabric of the region's success.
And he never stops crediting his wife Sharon for not only helping him through those hard times, but helping him tackle the challenges which still lie ahead in getting the region where he wants it to be.
What do you think about Gympie's Power 30?
Some could argue money is influence, and in some cases, they would be right.
Others could argue sports stars hold greater influence than, say, artists and charity workers.
Both could be right, or wrong, because that's the subjectiveness of power.
Let's start a conversation.
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