House debates

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Constituency Statements

Holt Electorate: Jayco

9:45 am

Photo of Anthony ByrneAnthony Byrne (Holt, Australian Labor Party, Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise today to talk about a local success story that commenced in the winter of 1975 in a shed in Cranbourne. A 24-year-old man started a small business. He started with only eight employees but, using his formula for success—passion, perspiration and persistence, which are his terms—he created a business empire that has grown to be a key employer in Melbourne’s south-east. I am referring to Jayco, a great Australian company started by Gerry Ryan, who overwhelmingly demonstrated the entrepreneurial spirit that has characterised the success of so many Australian businesses.

There would not be too many privately owned businesses that are celebrating their 35th birthdays this year, but there would be even fewer that could demonstrate their success not only in business but also in their commitment to their staff in that they still employ some of the staff that began with the company 35 years ago. Indeed, of the eight staff that began with the company in 1975, six still work there. One of them is 76 years old. What is more, there are over 20 employees who have been with the company for more than 20 years. Last Friday, 400 of these staff and spouses celebrated the company’s 35th birthday at a dinner at Docklands in Melbourne.

I have come to know Gerry and respect him for the enormous contribution he has made to his business and to the community. He is an unassuming man but one who commands intense loyalty from his staff. They describe him like this: ‘He’s a quiet man who doesn’t like attention or look for accolades.’ That is reflected in the working environment at Jayco. The values that Gerry infuses Jayco with and the significant investment in the staff capacity result in the employees’ pride in their workplace. It is also the familiar atmosphere of the company that has resulted in its resounding success. At the height of the global financial crisis, when companies were shedding staff, Jayco made a conscientious effort to retain their highly skilled workforce—many of whom had been taken on by the company as school based apprentices. These were people who Gerry and his team knew would not be easy to replace once the Australian and international economies recovered. Now, with over 750 staff, Jayco remains a significant employer in south-eastern Melbourne and many from my electorate of Holt work in the company.

During his 35 years at the helm of Jayco, Gerry has also used the company’s success to pursue numerous philanthropic projects. Only recently the Australian labelled him as one of the country’s greatest sporting philanthropists. He is an avid St Kilda fan—I guess you have to have one vice!—being a life member and having had a stint as the club’s vice-president. I know how welcome his support is there. He is also a generous supporter of the Dandenong Rangers in the Women’s National Basketball League, as well as a supporter of the Australian Jockeys Association, the Melbourne Storm, various cycling teams and significant events like the now famous Adelaide tour down under and the Jayco Herald Sun tour in Melbourne.

It is important to note Gerry’s contribution in other manners, like the Visy Cares Centre in Dandenong, which invests in community based projects like youth centres, libraries, hospital infrastructure and services for migrants and refugees—just to name a few. I congratulate Gerry and Jayco on celebrating its 35th birthday. He is clearly not a man who seeks recognition, but I certainly believe that, given his contribution to the community, he should be recognised in this House. (Time expired)