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Kim Tyrer
20 February 2013 | News & Media | Kim Tyrer

RIRDC finalist Kim Tyrer talks with Owen Grieve

By Owen Grieve

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

[Kim Tyrer Galafrey Wines]

RIRDC finalist, Kim Tyrer

With an untimely death in the family, a young Western Australian woman found herself thrust into a very responsible position running a vineyard and full-blown winery.

Kim Tyrer is CEO of Galafrey Wines in Mount Barker, and now wants to pass on her experiences to other people running family businesses.

Kim is a finalist in the RIRDC Rural Womens Award, the winner of which will be announced next week.

After her father died 10 years ago Kim has taken on all aspects of the business, and is the face of the Galafrey Wine business - which has been very challenging.

As part of the RIRDC Rural Womens Award Kim aims to develop a 12-week rural business mentoring program to which people subscribe and experience via the internet.

Kim says, " The model will provide a professional journey which will include a series of online webinars that can be accessed by everyone, regardless of location, and will deal directly with the issues of family businesses."

"Information may be presented through podcasts, interviews, blogs, videos, forums, so people can become a community and talk about their problems."

Copy of Audio.

Great interview by Owen Grieves from ABC Radio for WA Rural Woman Award. While I didn't win I like the interview begining talking about when my father died and the issues involved so I got a copy dictated to share. I got lots of great feedback from people who listen to the interview on radio. Nice photo from Jeff Aktinsons too.


KIM: I'm in a unique situation where I am the face of Galafrey Wines. Being a female who's the face of a business, especially a family business, is quite unique. Quite often it tends to be a father or a brother figure or a husband figure, I guess. So in that way, they recognized that role, as well as I have strong leadership skills and I'm quite confident and I do a lot of volunteer work, like I'm president of Mount Barker Wine Producers and do some work with the Great Southern Wine Producers and Chair of the Grapes and Gallops Festival and a lot of regional development sort of stuff, over the last couple years that I've been doing stuff. So yeah, I guess they recognized those sort of qualities and thought I'd be a good candidate.

INTERVIEWER: I guess you were thrust into the business with your father dying very prematurely?

KIM: Yeah, it was a big learning curve, for sure. Seems so long ago now. What happened is, one Christmas, Dad sat me down just before, and he said, "In 10 years' time I'm going to be 65." He needed to work out the succession plan of whether or not he was gearing the business up in the next 10 years to hand over to me as a managerial position, or whether or not to sell the business. That was the plan that we made at Christmas, and being emotional, I couldn't imagine not having Galafrey in my life, even though I had a separate career at that stage. I was like, "No, no, I'll do it. I'll take over Galafrey as a manager position," thinking that I'd be able to juggle my two careers.

So I started working at Galafrey, and what I ended up doing is the labeling machine, learning how to run the labeling machine. I was on that for three months. My poor dad, bless his cotton socks, even when Vintage happened, I was still on this labeling line; all the boys were out in the back doing stuff. And I understand, because he wanted to protect me; he didn't want me to do all the hard work, and that's why he wanted to build Galafrey to a managed position.

So I got a bit cornered on this labeling machine, and of course, at Vintage, he had this cough, and he was diagnosed – well, he actually had kidney cancer, but he died of lung cancer within three months. And really all I had learnt in his sort of mentorship was this labeling machine. So yeah, it was a big learning curve, and it was a lot to take on, because when he passed away it was September, so the vineyard was about to burst, the winery, all the wines were ready for bottling and stuff like that. And of course, the shed's full of wine, and it's gearing up for Christmas sales. So there was a lot happening at once, and really, all I'd learnt properly to do day in, day out, was that labeling machine. (laughs)

INTERVIEWER: So your learning curve for the next few months or next few years has been a very steep one.

KIM: It's amazing how – I mean, I am born and bred within the business, so I guess there's also that. I learnt a lot through osmosis, I guess, in some ways, while growing up in the industry. And we had a lot of friends, also, that helped us out. And of course, there was my mother, who had been in the business for so long as well, so her experience is invaluable. And my husband as well, who helped out a lot. It was a crazy time, and all you can do really is focus on one thing and work hard, and once you finish that, move on to the next thing. Chip and Charge has been pretty much my motto for the last 10 years.

INTERVIEWER: Well, you're CEO now of the organization, and I guess you're across most aspects?

KIM: Yeah, absolutely. That's the joys of family business; you do everything from making teas to making wine, cleaning floors to out there selling the stuff. So yeah, absolutely.

INTERVIEWER: You want to pass on some of your experience. Tell us how you aim to do that.

KIM: Because of what we went through, I guess, I spent a lot of time looking for answers about business itself. This is quite common, especially in the wine industry, but also a lot of other family businesses where you're not just one position; you're multiple positions. So you don't necessarily have any training and your job's not necessarily the same thing day in, day out. One minute you're an accountant, next minute you're a marketing major, next minute you're trying to promote an event while you're trying to grow a vineyard, blah blah blah. You're just multitasking all the time.

So I looked a lot, especially from business, and I wanted to get our business into shipshape, because I went from a position of having the business control us, and I wanted to get into the position of controlling the business, which was very important, because that saves a lot of stress levels. So as well as trying to learn everything, I was looking for all this information. I just think there wasn't a lot out there in this area, or especially also a lot of it tends to be quite corporatized, and I think family business or small business is a very different kettle of fish.

So my project is really about getting a lot of that content that I believe is valuable and putting it into a format so that it's easily accessible via the web, and it can be in different formats, whether it's podcasts, interviewing other women who have done some amazing things, or blogs about our finance and things like that, and videos, and forums even, so people can become a community and talk about their problems – not necessarily problems, but you know, issues – amongst each other, and each other can give advice and stuff like that. Because sometimes you can isolated in your own business, and it's not because of distance. It's just because it's just you or all your family, and you're doing the same thing day in, day out, with not a lot of other interaction that's stimulating or motivating yourself.

INTERVIEWER: So really, you want to pass on a lot of life's experience as you've lived it, but also with the technology of your other learning, you head on board anyway.

KIM: Yeah, I think it's really valuable. There's a lot of content out there and stories that are very, very valuable, and to put that into this format and making it accessible, I think a lot of people will get a lot out of it, and it will really help you feel more confident in certain areas of your business.

INTERVIEWER: If you were to say, "This will be my end product," what would it look like?

KIM: It's a journey that's online, so you sign up and you go on a journey. So each week, throughout the time, you will be sent stuff, and you'll participate in it, and you'll listen, and you'll learn. It'll be very powerful content, and it will be very easy to consume. I think it will be very valuable –[End of Audio].


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