Share |

Week at the top

Kevin Chambers is Managing Director of Kevron Plastics Pty Ltd, of Melbourne, Australia. He runs the company in conjunction with his brother Ron. Kevron was started by their father Ernie (a native of London's East End) in 1952 and the company has celebrated its 50th anniversary Golden Jubilee this past year with much fervour. Kevron manufactures a range of plastic ID products, (keytags, keytag racks, luggage tags, etc) and has been the dominant force in this sector of the Australian market for decades

It's casserole production day. About every third weekend, I like to cook up a storm and freeze the results. It keeps me in instant meals after a hard day at work or a late homecoming from a networking meeting. By early evening, the kitchen is cleaned up (at least to my standards) and my partner Heather and I head off to experience two Melbourne institutions: (1) a tram ride to (2) Lygon Street, our famous restaurant quarter, for an informal BYO wine dinner.

A quiet day, Heather attacks the much neglected (by myself and the previous occupants) garden of our home with much gusto. I do what I can to assist and then retire to my wine cellar for a stocktaking session. Wow – is it possible that I still have seven bottles left of that lovely '98 Margaret River Cabernet? All key
bottles are, of course, tagged with a Kevron Vinotag.

As it is only three kilometres and one traffic light to work, I'm at the office bright and early. I download my emails and discuss the weekend's incoming Kevron communications with our GM, Paul Metz. The most satisfying thing coming across my desk is another order from our UK office product distributor, Jet UK, run by the Mines Brothers, Peter and Michael (family businesses have to stick together!).

Then I'm off to a management meeting with my brother and Paul. The morning's topics are our updated website, planning for our exhibits at 2003's two big trade shows (Frankfurt in January, Cologne in March), new product developments and final details of an upcoming visit to Kevron by Tim Fischer, Ambassador for the 'Australian Made' Campaign (formerly our deputy prime minister and trade minister).

Because we are celebrating our Golden Jubilee, Mr Fischer has been invited to Kevron to cut our 50th anniversary birthday cake, shaped like a Kevron keytag, of course. After the meeting, I settle down to an afternoon on my computer working on various administrative tasks.

In the evening I'm off to my exercise class. Good for creaky old spines and also for socialising (this is where I met Heather)

My day begins with a breakfast meeting for the committee of a group set up to oversee the education of small manufacturers in our area on the joys and perils of exporting. I have been involved since its inception in the mid-90s and it's really gratifying to see how the programme has grown – both in stature and the number of participants.

In the afternoon I head back to Kevron and  review a speech I am to give on Friday to a locksmith's conference here in Melbourne. The words are good, but I tweak a few transparencies before I think it's ready.

In the evening Tim Fischer arrives in Melbourne to address a gathering of Family Business Australia (FBA) members. I attend and take along various family-owned clients/suppliers as my guests.

Tim Fischer arrives at Kevron at 10am for his official 'cake-cutting' duties. The audience consists of our staff and several of my peers from the export-training course. The local paper is there for the photo opportunity and the morning is a great success.

The rest of the day is uneventful: another normal office afternoon and then to exercise class in the evening.

It's a bright, sunny spring morning – no car needed today – so I'm on my bike and ride to work.

The first phone call is from the local council regarding arrangements for a visit from the Mayor to help us celebrate our 50th anniversary.

Ron reports that our updated semi-automatic keytag assembler is up and running, so I take a quick look down in the factory at this wonderful piece of robotics that helps us compete worldwide against low-cost imports.

In the afternoon, I have a meeting with a supplier who has been slack with his deliveries. The last delivery caused us to miss the boat on a big export order to the United States. The airfreight bill of €1,100 over and above our seafreight cost did not impress me and he leaves fully aware of my sentiments!

In the evening I attend a Family Business Australia Committee meeting. I finally leave at 6.30pm, then it's home to Heather.

It's another early start, this time for my monthly Family Business Australia CEO Forum Group. This group, modelled on YPO/The Executive Connection (Young Presidents Organisation/Traning and Enterprise Council), is a valuable part of our FBA membership. For three hours, 12 family business CEOs sit around a table and discuss each other's triumphs and tragedies. We then listen to a guest speaker.

By lunchtime I'm at the locksmith's conference, where as well as giving my speech, Kevron has a small stand. The exhibit and my speech are very well received.

Then out to Melbourne airport for a meeting with a Canberra-based business associate. That also is successful and I'm home happy, but tired, by 8pm.

Click here >>