The regions most influential people.
The regions most influential people.

POWER 30: Sneak peak into Gympie's most influential #24-22

#24 ANDREW 'AUSSIE' CORBET

TREES GOING: Andrew Corbet is upset trees are going to be cut down along  the stretch of Mary Valley highway at Long Flat. Photo Craig Warhurst / The Gympie Times
Power 30 #24: Andrew 'Aussie' Corbet Craig Warhurst

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.

Andre Corbet with one of the new 33m road trains the Corbets Group has approval to run between Gympie and Brisbane.
Andre Corbet with one of the new 33m road trains the Corbets Group has approval to run between Gympie and Brisbane. Aaron Collins

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.

While the latest project - a controversial quarry and concrete plant expansion that will generate new jobs in the region - has been green-lit, 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

Kerri Eaton is a former opera singer and now is a singer teacher and member of the Gympie Power 30.
Kerri Eaton is a former opera singer and now is a singer teacher and member of the Gympie Power 30. DONNA JONES

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.

Simply Classical Kerry EAton
Photo Contributed
Simply Classical Kerry EAton Contributed

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

Cos Schuh.
Cos Schuh. Jacob Carson

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.”

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.

Email your thoughts to editor@gympietimes.com or leave your comment online at gympietimes.com.au.