CEO calls time on club career
A lengthy and distinguished career for the Chief Executive Officer of Illawarra Catholic Club is coming to a close, as another exciting chapter for Club Central is about to begin.
Mike Walker commenced employment at Illawarra Catholic Club as its first Operations Manager in December 1995. He was then appointed as Chief Executive Officer, at the retirement of his predecessor John Ohlin. Mike has announced his retirement from the ICC Group, effective August 2018.
CEO for the past 16 years and Operations Manager for six years prior, Mike is far from hanging up his toolbelt. He will stay on with the ICC in a consultancy role as project manager for the Club’s redevelopment at Hurstville and managing other commercial property negotiations currently under consideration.
“After 22 years with the Illawarra Catholic Club and having been part of the many changes and transformations of the Club, which has been most rewarding, it is time for someone else to take the reins,” Mr Walker said.
The Board has engaged the services of a recruitment consultant and the process of finding a replacement is already well underway. Meanwhile, it will be business as usual at Club Central Hurstville and Menai as the organisation looks towards the future and the exciting plans in place.
“I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to the ICC Board, my management team, the staff and patrons at Club Central Hurstville and Menai. Although not without many challenges over the years, my role and involvement with the club has always been enjoyable and rewarding,” Mr Walker said.
Looking back on Mike’s tenure, President of the ICC Group, Brian Cloney thanked Mike for his dedicated service to the ICC Group.
“Mike’s attention to detail and insistence on only accepting the best from his suppliers and staff has contributed to our growth and success over the years. With him staying on in a consultancy role, he will oversee and project manage the upcoming extension at Hurstville,” Mr Cloney said.
Career highlights with the ICC Group are many and varied for Mike. Some of the most significant include the successful construction of new Club premises in Hurstville in 2009 along with the re-branding of both clubs and major refurbishment of Club Central Menai in 2012 and the building of the new Club Central Menai Entertainment Precinct in 2015. Mike has overseen upward of $80 million in capital development works for the ICC Group to date.
In 1997 ahead of the opening of the new premises at Menai, Mike was responsible for ensuring every aspect of the business was ready for the first day of operation. From the employment of a whole new workforce to the procurement of all manner of stock required along with marketing and business development, he wore many hats.
The opening of Club Menai proved good timing for the community as in just its second week of trading it became an evacuation centre when the Menai district was threatened by bushfire. Mike worked around the clock alongside club staff, accommodating families and their pets. Waterfalls Restaurant within the Club was turned into a temporary medical centre and the boardroom and administration areas into a child care area for young ones whose parents were unable to reach them.
At the helm of the ICC, Mike has also seen off many challenges, including the introduction of gaming machine tax under the Carr Government in 2003, the staged implementation of smoking bans and the global financial crisis in 2008 which impacted heavily on the club industry.
After opening 56 years ago on a single floor in a former dance hall in Diment Way, Hurstville with just 217 members, the ICC Group has grown to a multi-site venue catering for all ages and demographics across food, beverage and entertainment. A diversification into commercial property holdings totalling approximately 12,000 sq metres across ICC House, Victory House and Club Central Menai’s Entertainment Precinct has added to the success of the ICC Group.
“When I commenced with the ICC Group its assets (members’ equity) totalled some $14 million. At my retirement, the ICC Group’s assets will total more than $160 million,” Mr Walker said.
Mike’s pride has been the establishment of a business model that ensures the future of the Illawarra Catholic Club for generations to come, which also includes the large increase in donations and in-kind support to the community in recent years.
At the Illawarra Catholic Club’s 50th anniversary celebrations in 2012 the Club announced a $1 million donation to Calvary Hospital, along with $400,000 to the Sylvanvale Foundation. This was followed by a $1 million donation to the St George Cancer Care Centre in 2015 to fund a major overhaul of the chemotherapy area, providing an additional 11 chemotherapy chairs, more beds, clinician rooms and greater patient space and privacy. These donations were made on top of the Club’s normal ClubGRANTS funding.
In the 2016/17 financial year, Club Central’s support of the Georges River community through annual ClubGRANTS, sponsorships, donation and in-kind support totalled more than $785,000. In the Sutherland Shire, a further $213,091 was donated through the same channels proving that Club Central lives up to its mission of giving back to the communities in which it is established.
Mike has been involved in the club industry for over 42 years and in addition to this has managed a transport company, built waterslides at the Nowra Olympic Pool, was briefly involved in the hotel industry and at one stage even cut mine timber for contractors to the Illawarra coal mines.
“Mike has built a good team around him and has led the club through its most successful period, so he will hand over to the new CEO a very professional unit. We all wish him well in his upcoming transition to retirement and thank him for his efforts as CEO,” said Mr Cloney.
Will you help Club Central Share the Dignity this April?
Club Central has thrown its support behind Australian charity, Share the Dignity, which aims to bring dignity to homeless, at-risk and women experiencing domestic violence by collecting sanitary items throughout the month of April.
Club Central Hurstville and Menai have been approved as official collection points for the Dignity Drive with Share the Dignity collection boxes available in each Club’s reception during April. Members and guests are encouraged to donate new, unopened sanitary items which will be distributed to women in need.
“On any given night in Australia 1 in 200 people are homeless. 44% of these are female. When you donate sanitary products to Share the Dignity, you’re giving a woman experiencing homelessness or financial crisis the essentials so she doesn’t need to choose between food and dignity,” said Chantelle Chapman, Marketing & Business Development Manager, Club Central.
“Our club workforce is roughly 45% female so this is a really important initiative for us. Club Central staff across Menai and Hurstville have kick started the collection and have been bringing in items for a few weeks now.
“We are determined to make a big contribution to the Dignity Drive this April, so we’re asking that the next time you’re doing your shopping, keep this in mind: one box for me, one box for her,” Mrs Chapman said.
Donations can be dropped into the collection boxes in the reception areas at Club Central Menai and Hurstville.
Club Central donates over $117,000 to local sporting clubs
Club Central is proud to support 30 grass roots sporting clubs across the Menai and Hurstville areas through its annual sporting grants program with over $117,000 donated in 2018; the largest amount donated to local sporting clubs in the Club’s history.
“We’re very proud to support local sporting clubs each year. One of the strengths of our community is its volunteers, and our financial support is one way that we are able to say thank you to all of the groups providing sporting fun for people of all ages,” said Brian Cloney, President of the Illawarra Catholic Club (trading as Club Central).
The financial grants are not the end of the support provided with Club Central giving in-kind support to all sporting clubs in the form of room hire waivers for club meetings and functions. In 2017 this amounted to almost $45,000.
In addition, Club Central Hurstville is a major sponsor of the St George Cricket Club, based at Hurstville Oval.
“We love our sport and we know that the community does too, so it’s a winning formula all round,” said Brian Cloney.
Work Gets Underway for St George Cancer Care Centre Haematology Oncology Day Centre
Club Central Directors and CEO were on hand for the official launch of the $5 million expansion of the St George Cancer Care Centre Haematology Oncology Day Centre and Outpatient Clinic by NSW Minister for Health, the hon Brad Hazzard and Mark Coure MP.
In 2015, Club Central was proud to donate $1 million to the project to help achieve a first-class facility to meet the growing needs of the community.
At the completion of the project later this year the new Cancer Care Centre will be more than three times the size of the current facility which will enable it to continue to provide the best possible patient care and the more than 50,000 visitations from cancer patients every year.
Club Central Menai Wins NSW Customer Service Award
Club Central Menai has been recognised amongst more than 30 medium-sized clubs in NSW for providing outstanding customer service. The prestigious Superior Service Club Award is presented by OOPS (Outstanding Operating Procedures and Services) to acknowledge outstanding customer service in the clubs, hotels and pubs industry.
“This award is evidence of our team’s commitment to our vision to exceed customer and community expectations in everything we do. It shows that we are achieving our mission to provide facilities, service and value that lead to positive experiences and demonstrates that our staff are willing to go the extra mile for members and guests,” said Club Central Chief Executive Officer, Mike Walker.
OOPS provides evaluation and auditing of customer service, image and presentation standards as well as regulatory compliance for registered Clubs across NSW.
“The OOPS mystery shoppers conducted 16 visits and evaluations of Club Central Menai resulting in an aggregate score of 97% in our core reporting criteria across the foyer, bar and gaming customer service areas,” said Michelle Pascoe, General Manager, OOPS.
The OOPS Awards are presented across three categories of large, medium and small clubs and are in their sixth year. The coveted award identifies clubs that are creating memorable experiences that will have customers returning and recommending venues to others.
“Across the industry the level of consistent superior service and the ability to exceed expectations of club patrons was certainly raised in 2017. We are pleased that Club Central Menai’s reputation as a leading-edge community grounded club has been confirmed with this result,” said Ms Pascoe.
Clubs eligible for the awards are assessed several times each quarter through mystery visits or calls to reception requesting details of an upcoming event. The way staff respond and how the Club presents and delivers its services and facilities are all considered in the final score.
“Our challenge now is to improve on the wonderful benchmark we’ve established and continue to provide excellent service for our members and guests,” said Mr Walker.
Quotes from the OOPS mystery shoppers after visiting Club Central Menai:
“Staff were seen to be professional at all times and conducting their duties in a diligent manner. They worked very well together and were observed helping out wherever it was needed, all while ensuring I was made to feel like a valued patron of the Club.”
“Excellent gaming facilities, coupled with polite, friendly and genuine interactions from team members who ensured that all members and visitors in the gaming area were served well.”
“The foyer was very impressive on first sight. Lighting, temperature control and décor were maintained at appropriate levels to offer a comfortable and welcoming experience. Staff members greeted us very warmly and came across as friendly, polite and genuinely happy to assist.”
“It has been said that first impressions count and this is certainly true for Club Central Menai where an excellent first impression was gained by me and others due to the customer focus and attention of the staff, and the great appearance of the entrance and foyer area.”
“A superior venue with excellent ambience, polite friendly staff members and high-quality facilities on offer.”
500 students benefit from hospitality work experience at Club Central Menai
The team behind the great meals at Club Central Menai, Myriam Facer Catering, have been rewarded for hosting more than 500 hospitality work experience students over the past five years by the Southern Sydney Business Education Network.
Owner, Myriam Facer, was recently presented with a Vocational Education & Training (VET) Excellence Award in recognition of the contribution to VET Workplace Learning.
Local students are given work experience under the supervision of qualified chefs at Club Central’s Terrace Bistro, providing a taste of what it’s like to work in a busy commercial kitchen.
“On average we serve more than 3,500 meals every week, including everything from seafood platters to burgers and pizzas. But our biggest seller is the good old chicken schnitzel and I think it’s because our chefs hand crumb the schnitzel fresh every day,” said Mrs Myriam Facer, Owner, Myriam Facer Catering.
“Traditionally Christmas is one of the busiest times, but our busiest single day of the year is Mother’s Day, where we serve around 1000 people. Our kitchen is a very fast-paced environment, but it’s really enjoyable to deliver good-quality food for our customers.
“We’re thrilled to be recognised with a Host Employer Excellence Award from the Southern Sydney Business Education Network. Hosting work placements and work experience students is a great way to help young people get a taste of the work force in a practical and safe environment. It’s our way of giving back to our local community and hopefully helps inspire our young people to take on a future career in hospitality,” she said.
Celebrating everyday beauty and resilience through art
To celebrate International Day of People with a Disability, Kingsgrove Community Aid Centre unveiled a masterpiece called “Wonderland” created by students of its Disability Art Class and Day Care program on Wednesday 6 December.
Chief Executive Officer of Kingsgrove Community Aid Centre, Anne Farrah Hill says the aim of the Disability Art Program is to empower local people with a disability to engage with and be active contributors to their community.
“We’ve launched this artwork as a celebration of the program and to demonstrate the enjoyment that our participants get out of exploring their creativity,” said Mrs Farah Hill.
“We’ve been supporting young people with disabilities and their families for the past five years and designed this program to provide activities and services for people who are 18 years and over in the Kingsgrove and St George areas. We were grateful to receive a $13,000 grant from Club Central Hurstville which enabled us to provide this as a free service to the community,” she said.
Club Central Director, Sandra Coogan, helped launch the artwork and congratulated the group on the finished piece.
“What a better way to celebrate International Day of People with a Disability than to unveil a masterpiece created by some talented locals. It’s fantastic to see the difference this program is making and Club Central is proud to be able to support community members with a disability to connect and engage with each other in a meaningful way,” said Ms Coogan.
The “Wonderland” artwork has been created by a group of students ranging in age from 19 to 76 and depicts the beauties of the local environment, full of sunshine, trees, flowers and butterflies.
A further eight pieces of art from KCAC’s Disability Art Class will be framed and displayed at the Civic Theatre Hurstville with electronic copies on screen rotation at Westfield Hurstville, as part of the Georges River Council’s International Day of People with Disability celebrations.
As well as gaining significant enjoyment from the art and craft activities, the participants have shown improvements in their interpersonal and independent living skills through the yoga and cooking segments of the program.
“The program has been an outstanding success with 15-25 participants for every session since it began in February this year. Based on the feedback we hope to continue the program and introduce more fun activities with clay modelling, singing, dancing, cooking and outdoor activities,” said Ms Farah Hill.
For more information on Kingsgrove Community Aid Centre’s programs visit www.kcac.org.au/.
Menai Businesses Celebrate Success at Business Awards
More than 200 people celebrated the 17th Menai District Business Awards at Club Central Menai with 14 awards recognising the best of the best amongst local service providers and retailers.
A total of 47 businesses located in the Alfords Point, Bangor, Barden Ridge, Illawong, Lucas Heights, Menai and Woronora areas were nominated.
“Since 2000 the Menai District Business Awards have been recognising local operators who are excelling in providing high quality products and services to the community,” said Mike Walker, Chief Executive Officer, Club Central.
“However, this will be the last year for the Menai District Business Awards, following the amalgamation of the Menai and Sutherland Business Chambers.
“Our awards program have provided a fantastic way for businesses to benchmark themselves against local competition. The winning businesses have benefitted from a boost in customer confidence and improvements in recruitment and retention of great staff who want to work for a reputable local business,” Mr Walker said.
“Over the past 17 years the Menai District Business Awards have assisted in promoting the whole Menai District to the wider community, which has delivered significant benefits to all businesses in the area,” he said.
Awards were handed out across eleven categories including Automotive, Café & Takeaway, Education, Fashion, General Retail, Hair & Beauty Services, Health, Home & Trade Services, Professional Services, Real Estate and Restaurants.
The judges also gave several special awards, including an Award for Excellence to Little Kids Academy in recognition for winning the Education Category for three years running.
A Judges Encouragement Award was given to two deserving finalists, Mortgage Choice Menai and the Copperpot Indian Restaurant.
“We congratulate all of the businesses nominated on their success and thank you for supporting this local initiative. We wish you all the best as we head into the busy festive season,” said Mr Walker.
Menai District Sports Awards Celebrate 13 Years of Local Sporting Success
Billy Burke from Aquinas Colts Junior Rugby League Club has been crowned the 2017 Sports Star of the Year at the 13th annual Menai District Sports Awards, beating out a strong field of finalists across athletics, basketball and cricket.
A spectacular awards dinner was held at Club Central Menai to celebrate the event which has been acknowledging the best in local sport across individual and team categories for the past 13 years.
“Our Menai District Sports Awards have a proud tradition of unearthing local stars amongst junior and senior athletes and celebrating their successes from the sporting season. It’s also a chance for us to recognise the significant contribution that sporting clubs and their members make to the community,” said Brian Roberts, Club Central Vice President.
“Since 2004 the Menai District Sports Awards have recognised more than 500 outstanding local sporting clubs, their athletes and future sporting stars. This year a total of 52 nominations were received across individual and team categories,” he said.
Awards were presented across eleven categories ranging from junior and rookie sports stars, senior individuals and teams as well as hard working club representatives and volunteers.
“We congratulate all nominees, finalists, runners up and winners in the 2017 Menai District Sports Awards.
“Club Central is proud to have been recognising the depth of local sporting talent in the Menai District for the past 13 years. The Sutherland Shire has a strong sporting culture and it is great to see the tradition of playing sport being shared by so many and passed on to new generations each year,” Brian Roberts, Club Central Vice President said.
A full round up of winners can be found here.
Club Central partners with Learning Links to support children with learning difficulties
Children and families attending Learning Links Preschool in Peakhurst are set to benefit from a significant grant provided by Club Central Hurstville. Part of the $43,000 funding granted to Learning Links in 2017 will be put towards the replacement of soft fall rubber flooring in the outdoor place area used for children’s therapy and motor skill development.
Club Central has been a proud advocate and supporter of Learning Links for many years, said Learning Links CEO, Birgitte Maibom.
“Learning Links is a not-for-profit charitable organisation where limited funding is available to help children with learning difficulties and disabilities. The ongoing support from clubs such as Club Central, enables Learning Links services to reach a wider group of children and assists us in upgrading our centre’s facilities.
“The Club Central grant will fund the surface replacement at our Learning Links Preschool. This is a vital space used for gym groups, therapy sessions and to help build children’s motor, sensory and social development,” said Ms Maibom.
The Learning Links Preschool is an inclusive preschool where children of all abilities learn alongside each other. The Preschool provides therapeutic activities and sessions to promote skill development for all children.
“Club Central’s support greatly assists the work Learning Links provides to the community. Club Central is just as committed to our mission to help provide families with the support, skills and services to enable their children to reach their potential as we are and we’re grateful for its ongoing support,” said Ms Maibom.
“Club Central has been proudly supporting Learning Links for ten years with grants totalling more than $245,000. We’ve seen the difference that Learning Links makes in the community in that time. The programs and facilities offered by Learning Links are supporting our next generation with essential development skills that will help them reach their full potential now and into the future,” said Mike Walker, Chief Executive Officer, Club Central.
Learning Links is a not-for-profit charitable organisation established in 1972 by parents concerned about the lack of appropriate education and support services for children with learning difficulties. Learning Links work with these children, their families and schools offering tailored programs and services to improve the children’s learning, wellbeing and participation helping them reach their full potential.
Club Central and Zonta get stuffing for Breast Cancer
Staff from Club Central volunteered to help create Zonta Breast Care Cushions to bring comfort to breast cancer patients during Breast Cancer Awareness month in October.
On Thursday 12 October Club Central staff helped stuff and stitch the Zonta Breast Care Cushions, small hand-made cushions that fit neatly under a patient’s arm post-surgery to protect sensitive scars and avoid accidental but painful knocks.
The Zonta Breast Care Cushion is the brainchild of Ann Selle OAM, a member of the Zonta Club of Botany Bay. The cushions have been funded by Club Central for the past five years with an annual grant of $3,000 through its ClubsGRANTS program. The grant also funds the production of an information booklet for patients with information from trained Breast Care Nurses.
“Thanks to the huge amount of volunteer hours put in by the Zonta club members, the cost of this amazing initiative is not significant, however it has an enormous impact on the lives of women and men going through breast cancer treatment,” said Sandra Coogan, Director of Club Central.
“We are pleased to provide the funds for these cushions so they can be given away free to patients. The stitching and stuffing day is also a great way for Club Central staff to get involved in a program that’s making a big difference in our local community and helps promote breast cancer awareness this month,” she said.
It’s estimated that several hundred thousand of the u-shaped cushions have been distributed to breast cancer patients by Zonta Clubs across Australia and internationally.
“The idea for the breast care cushion came in 1994 when I saw a friend going through treatment for breast cancer. Our Zonta volunteers from the St George and Sutherland Shire have created more than 10,000 of these cushions over the past 23 years. It’s a great example of something small that continues to make a big difference many years later,” Ann Selle said.
“We stuffed and stitched around 50 cushions with the help of Club Central staff, which is about a two-month supply for patients in St George Hospital, St George Private Hospital and Sutherland Hospital,” she said.
If you know someone who would benefit from a Zonta Breast Care Cushion, contact the Zonta Club of Botany Bay on firstname.lastname@example.org.