Stephen is Oz Group’s Chairman and a local businessman who owns and runs Coffs City Glass and Aluminium, as well as Northern Beaches Glass and Aluminium. He started farming as a hobby after work and on weekends when a tenant left his farmland in a derelict state after the downturn in the local banana industry. He completed a Certificate III in Horticulture at TAFE and began working on his own on one farm and started working with a friend on another.
Stephen joined Oz Berries in 2005 and saw joining Oz Group as a ‘no-brainer’- he could just focus on the farming and saw his membership as a way to be able to relax knowing that his fruit would be quality controlled, packed and marketed for him. He sees the strength of the co-op in its collective nature: that when working together local farmers can achieve better things. The co-op markets for the collective and has stronger buying and selling power.
Stephen was encouraged by other members of the co-op to nominate for the board of directors in 2014 due to his life experience. Having run a successful local business for almost 30 years, Stephen was able to bring that valuable knowledge with him to give insight to the board and Oz Group’s leadership.
Stephen understands the complexities of the farming industry and hopes, with the help of Oz Group’s Agronomy Team, that farmers are able to maintain their compliance with government regulations. He also wishes to see a berry industry that is sustainable in the long term, with supply and demand in good balance.